Community Garden for Wellbeing at Canterbury Christ Church University, Kent, UK
Community garden for wellbeing. To turn an existing very large outdoor space, the Oasis garden, into a community garden for students, staff and visitors
Community garden for wellbeing is so important in our modern hectic lives. This is the opportunity to work with the estates department at Canterbury Christ Church University and Kent Enterprise Trust, community members, students and staff to create a multi-functional space. Dedicated to the provision of mental and emotional support to students and staff at the University. Although most interaction is talking based support, the aim is for a more lateral approach to wellbeing that includes signposting to services that may not be directly related to mental health but nevertheless have a positive impact. To enhance psychological and emotional wellbeing through a reconnection with nature. The entrance will become the community hub, with a small shop selling produce and plants. The existing tired allotment will become a fully inclusive space for growing vegetables, fruit and flowers with polytunnels and a new outdoor covered teaching area. Existing mixed native hedgerows and newly introduced hedgerows will allow individuals to forage and welcome the idea of woodland foraging. Two large observatories will be screened with natural planting, while the large ponds, home to over 300 newts, will be integrated into the design. An area for beehives and apiary classes will sit nestled among the scheme, while a large open expanse (previously used for leaf mulch and clippings) will be turned into a natural waterway, leading off a woodland walk. Wild meadows, composting areas and a mini orchard will create biodiversity and a natural habitat for fauna of all kinds.
Wellbeing is at the centre of this community garden, and there will be wicker seats / ‘eggs’ in natural positions, some hidden from sight, for either one-on-one therapy or for personal reflection. Pathways within the campus will become ‘Paths as Places’, leading individuals to the new community garden, while also being places in their own right. Naturalistic planting, wild meadows and native trees with the help of modern technology will show the way to an exciting, calming, community space.