Havering Mind teams up with Bedfords Walled Garden project

PUBLISHED: 15:00 27 November 2016

The Bedfords Park garden centre holding an event for people with mental health issues.

The Bedfords Park garden centre holding an event for people with mental health issues.


As the weather begins to turn frosty, many of us will prefer to remain indoors to protect ourselves from the cold.

But one green-fingered community simply cannot wait to be at one with nature, even during these winter months.

The Bedfords Park Walled Garden has teamed up with Havering Mind, referring those who use the charity’s services to the refurbished site in Havering-atte-Bower where they can grow food, learn about healthy eating and socialise.

“It is important to encourage people to live a healthier lifestyle as it does have an impact on your physical and mental health,” said project manager Kirsty McArdle.

“This is a safe environment where people can feel comfortable and learn something new without feeling anxious or uneasy.

“It is a chance to get to know people and to come out of your shell when you feel ready to.”

The garden, which was created in the 1770s as part of the Bedfords Estate, was unused for more than a decade but was brought back to life after receiving funding from the Big Lottery Local Food Grant in 2012, which focused on renovation.

A Reaching Communities grant for 2015-17, also from the Big Lottery scheme, was then awarded to the project with a clear focus on health and wellbeing, training and development.

The project secured a lease from the council and transformed the two acre site, with the help of volunteers.

Havering Mind created the project with Havering Council, the Friends of Bedfords Park and Essex Wildlife Trust.

Those referred by Havering Mind meet at the Bedfords Park Walled Garden every week, growing anything from kale and cabbages to apples which they use to make cider or vinegar.

Some of the produce grown is turned into chutneys and limoncello and the apples are sold at the Bedfords Park Visitor Centre.

Denise Miller, 61, who has suffered with depression for most of her life, has been attending the sessions for the past few weeks.

She said: “I think people always thought I was just a little miserable, they didn’t understand it was depression and neither did I until about 20 years ago.

“I did go through a stage at school when I didn’t even want to get up and face the day.

“Coming here though has helped me to get out of the house and talk to new people.

“You do feel nervous at first, because it’s somewhere new with people you don’t know, but you get to learn a lot of new things and make friends.

“I’ve been able to show my grandchildren some of the things that I’ve learnt here at the walled garden – which is a lovely way for us to spend time together.”

For more information on the weekly sessions, email or call Kirtsty McArdle on 07864 564504.

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