- Posted April 12, 2012
Thousands of pounds worth of bespoke raised beds bursting with fruit and vegetables have been donated to an innovative garden therapy unit at Headley Court, the Surrey-based armed forces rehabilitation centre, by The Edible Garden Show 2012.
The gift was made after The Edible Garden Show’s organisers were moved and inspired by work carried out at Headley Court in the groundbreaking horticultural therapy unit developed to help servicemen returning from conflicts recover their strength, mobility and co-ordination.
The unit opened in May last year and is run by Major Peter Le Feuvre, a leading Ministry of Defence physiotherapist, who says that gardening and grow-your-own also helps patients improve their concentration and reduce stress levels.
Major Le Feuvre and members of his team were invited to attend the award-winning Edible Garden Show at Stoneleigh Park, Warwickshire, on March 16 to highlight the therapeutic benefits of gardening. He spoke in the show’s Experts Theatre, giving the audience an insight into the role of garden therapy on the rehabilitation of battle injured soldiers.
Bev Channel, Event Director of The Edible Garden Show, said; “Our visitors were awestruck as they listened to Major Le Feuvre and his team talk about the incredibly positive results that horticultural therapy has had on the recovery of injured soldiers. We felt the raised beds, which we had commissioned and planted for the show, were a perfect height to be incorporated into the garden project at Headley Court this season.”
Major Le Feuvre says; “We were delighted with the gift as well as other promises of support we were given by exhibitors at the show. We use the ‘green’ environment to rehabilitate injured troops. Horticultural therapy is as much about the psychological benefits of doing something meaningful and fulfilling – nurturing and growing plants – as it is about the physical benefits of moving around, standing, bending, lifting, carrying and negotiating obstacles.
“It encourages patients to experience different activities which aids the rehabilitation from their injuries. By varying the rehabilitation methods used at Headley Court, we can keep patients stimulated and focused on their goals and road to recovery. One of our guys is wheelchair-bound because of his injuries. He is making great progress with horticultural therapy. Not only has it enabled him to learn new skills, gardening and growing is something he can do with his family. So the result is multifaceted.”
One of the injured servicemen Sapper Matthew Weston (22) who suffered severe injuries while on duty in Afghanistan in 2009 thoroughly enjoys sessions in the horticultural therapy unit. He says; “I like cooking so I am interested in growing fruit and vegetables. It is really relaxing being out here doing something useful.”
His thoughts were echoed by Lance Corporal Joe Qalotaki who was injured in Germany. He says: “My family has a farm in Fiji and we grow capsicums and melons. It is nice to be outside doing something therapeutic like this and gaining strength at the same time.”
Major Le Feuvre says; “These men and woman are soldiers and they like to be outside doing physical work. Many of them have to come to terms with their injuries and there are mental health benefits to the project. It gives them new skills and an opportunity to interact socially.”
• The Edible Garden Show will be back at Stoneleigh Park from March 15-17th 2013. A one-stop-shop for anyone looking to grab a slice of the ‘Good Life’ it uniquely brings together celebrity gardeners, chefs and innovative exhibitors from the worlds of gardening, home produce and food.