Green fingered volunteers open up their Doncaster plot

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Green fingered gardeners who volunteer at a Sandall Beat allotment project have celebrated National Allotments Week by opening up their plot to the local community.

Service users, volunteers and occupational therapy staff from mental health services run by Rotherham Doncaster and South Humber NHS Foundation Trust (RDaSH) held the open day to showcase their produce and emphasise the benefits of working together on their allotment, which they have been tending every Monday for the past ten years.

RDaSH senior occupational therapist Jane Sayner said: “The theme for this year’s National Allotments Week was ‘Growing Together’ to draw attention to the inclusive nature of allotment gardening, so we were delighted to have so welcome so many visitors to our allotment.

“There are so many positive reasons for having an allotment – both mentally and physically.

“Mental illness can be very isolating, so gardening at our allotment gives service users a sense of purpose and structure. It’s also an opportunity to connect with others, and we’ve developed strong bonds with neighbouring allotment holders, who offer us help and advice, which helps break down some of the stigma associated with mental health.”

She added: “Gardening is a great physical activity for anyone – regardless of their age and ability, and there something very satisfying in harvesting fruit and vegetables that you’ve grown from seed and nurtured.

“All our produce is shared amongst the volunteers to take home and so they sample the fruits of their labours, which means they’re also eating more healthily too!”

National Allotments Week is an annual celebration of ‘allotmenteering’ held by the National Society of Allotment and Leisure Gardening Ltd.