Spring Orchard Project 2016

The Orchard (before)

The Spring Orchard Project has two main aims-

To revitalise an area of the Cannington Community Orchard to improve access, augment the environment, develop the looks of the area, increase use of the Orchard as a whole and describe the Recovery journey, challenges and triumphs of those experiencing mental distress.

To provide the opportunity for twelve people with mental health problems, from diverse backgrounds and locations across Sedgemoor to benefit from Seed of Hope. Participants also have the opportunity to gain a City and Guilds Level one qualification in practical horticultural skills.

What we will do-
Clear the overgrown areas to allow access to the wooded area and to provide views of Cannington Brook and the Quantocks hills.
Plant to enhance the environment both visually and for wildlife. Providing colour, interest,scent, food and habitat throughout the seasons.
Landscape to provide an accessible pathway through the wooded area.Explain the journey, triumphs and challenges of the Recovery journey of those who experience mental health problems, using art and installations to illustrate.
The orchard with proposed path shown by dotted red line.

Untitled drawing

To see pictures of us in action and for updates, click here.

Cannington Community Orchard

Is a public space owned and maintained by Bridgwater College with the help of Cannington in Bloom.
Its is open for anyone to use 24/7 365. It is designed to provide a natural environment for wildlife as well as producing a variety of fruit. It has several utility areas including a living willow shelter, that enable local people to use the space for functions. It also provides many learning opportunities for students of the college. Cannington brook runs alongside the site.

The area we are going to work on is overgrown in places, to provide wildlife habitats, but this makes it difficult to access. It also provides views of the Quantocks and access to Cannington Brook.

The Orchard, which used to be a nursery area for Cannington college was opened in 2009.

From the college website-

“Bridgwater College’s Cannington Centre students, along with local residents, have been busy in recent months transforming a large patch of waste land at the end of a residential cul-de-sac in Cannington into a Community Orchard garden for the benefit of residents and visitors.

The College obtained funding from the SITA Trust, which gives money from the Landfill Tax for environmental projects, and established a group of hard-working volunteers to clear the area and plant many trees, flowering shrubs, bulbs and herbs.

Head of Land-based Studies Jeremy Kerswell explains,

“The Cannington Community Orchard will be open to everyone. A unique pedestrian gate, designed and made by College staff member and local artist, John Elliot, will be open at all times and the produce from the newly planted fruit trees, fruit bushes and herbs will be free for all to enjoy.”

“The planting scheme was designed by Linda Philp of the College’s Horticultural Section in the spirit of a Forest Garden—an agronomic system based on trees, shrubs and perennial plants, mixed in such a way as to mimic the structure of a natural forest—the most stable and sustainable type of ecosystem in this climate.

How we will spend the money-


We are going to lay a pathway through the wooded area similar to this one.
We also want to add some art to the pathway and will need materials for this.

orahcrd path



We will grow, buy and plant a variety of species for colour, scent, medicinal use, environment and habitat. Including our own Seeds of Hope.



We will need some equipment above that which the college can provide.


The main expenditure will be on the materials, plants and equipment needed to compete the work. However we cannot avoid overheads, we will keep them to a minimum though. They include things like Insurance, expenses, and office costs.l


How does it work?

There are a number of things central to SoH, and intrinsic to gardening, that produce the good effects (outcomes)that we expect:

  • Being in nature
  • Being outdoors
  • Physical Exercise
  • Being with others
  • Achieving common goals
  • Eating seasonal produce
  • Growing and nurturing stuff

The good stuff includes:

  • Reduced anxiety
  • Reduced depression
  • Improved feelings of well being
  • Reduced Stress
  • Better Physical Health
  • Improved diet
  • Increase in attention
  • Improved concentration
  • Weight loss
  • Less social isolation

Can you prove it? (the research/evidence base)

The main sources of evidence for our approach are gathered in a literature review of ten papers on the benefits of gardening on mental health, published since 2003. “Gardening as a mental health intervention:a review” Clatworthy J. et al., 2013.

The team review the ten articles and collate the evidence produced, the findings are:

All reported positive effects of gardening as a mental health intervention for service users, including reduced symptoms of depression and anxiety. Participants described a range of benefits across emotional, social, vocational, physical and spiritual domains. Overall the research was of a considerably higher quality than that reviewed in 2003, providing more convincing evidence in support of gardening-based interventions.

So they found gardening to be a positive intervention, and this held true across the various projects reviewed. For more research and evidence of the benefits of gardening on mental health please visit our research and evidence page.

“There is something soothing about working in the yard. Planting seeds and seeing them poke green out of the dirt. And it gets you out of the house with out going too far.”
Michael Lee West, Crazy Ladies

Thrive Growth Point Summer 2016

Fay, Jayne, Helen at the orchard gate.
Fay, Jayne, Helen at the orchard gate.

This summer we were proud to be featured in the Thrive magazine-Growth Point. Thrive are a national charity who promote and provide Social and Therapeutic Horticulture for people with disabilities.

They also provide training and consultancy and regularly highlight “Great Gardens” providing STH around the world so we were chuffed when they asked if they could feature us.


Click here to see the full article.


Spring Orchard Project-Session eleven

Extra Time

What a glorious day for it as well! We have to confess to having a slower day than usual for two reasons, firstly the heat, and secondly the celebrations of Queen Victoria’s birthday.


Spring Orchard Project-Session ten

They think it’s all over

Way back in the winter when we were planning the project we anticipated being finished at the end of session ten. Happily we aren’t finished yet. Luckily because it gives this happy co-incidence of human beings more time together.

First order of business this week was the finishing touches to the wildlife hide, ready for the Walled Gardens Wildlife event.

The nest job was to finish the building of the arch at the end of the Recovery pathway. This arch will be planted up with native Honeysuckle and Dog Rose, and decorated with Solar powered lights.


Spring Orchard Project-Session nine

A stitch in time saves nine

A hot humid and occasionally damp session this week. With the usual amounts of hard work and fun. The highlights this week were saying farewell to the tractor tyres, a bit of Bob Flowerdew chic that I’m sure looked good in their time, but are looking a bit (sorry I can’t help myself) tyred now! It may have taken three weeks, but the planters are at last planted, and what a difference they make. A shortage of tools meant the shed had a break this week, but gave us more hands to the pump for what proved to be our trickiest bit of construction so far, the pergola that forms the exit of the Recovery Path. All these pailed in comparison to the joy of one member of the teamwho tried popping candy for the first time. I’m not sure what the neighbours thought we were doing, but the laughter must have been heard all over the village. Once again we stayed out past our tea time, and it was a wrench getting people to down tools, tidy up and go home.

So tyred

The planters

The pergola/exit archway

And Finally

Jayne playing on her little tractor.

Spring Orchard Project-Session eight

The colour of magic

Wouldn’t it have been lovely if we had exactly eight of us there on our eighth session, hang on for most of the day there was!!?

For the majority of you out there who aren’t Terry Pratchett fans, and who won’t get the colour of magic reference. Octarine is the eighth colour of the Discworld rainbow and the colour of magic.

Sorry back to reality now.

It was a magical day which we didn’t want to end. We were naughty and stayed out late playing in the sunshine in the orchard. We got loads done though.

The shed got another wall and a door, the path got an entrance, the tables got colour (not Octarine), the planters got together and dirt added. I’m tired just typing it! Here’s the photos-

Picnic Tables

The Shed

The planters

Not how the manufaturers planned, but we think it looks good.
Not how the manufaturers planned, but we think it looks good.

The entrance arch.


We had lots of visitors this week-a “mystery shopper”, our old mucker Sarah from Cannington in Bloom and this lovely lot-


And This!-

Well Done!
Well Done the Walled Gardens Of Cannington.



Spring Orchard Project-Session seven

The magnificent seven

This one may go down as the week that the weather sent everything it had at us! But we dont want to talk too soon just in case there is more in store. So in betweeen hail storms, wind, rain and snow we carried on regardless.

The highlight of the week was playing the Krypton Factor with the corner planters that we had ordered. There were instructions to be fair but I mean who reads them? Also pleasse note the separation of roles along gender roles. Yes the women make sense of the task and crack on whilst the males look on!

Work in the woods on the area with Leo the dragon and the “landing stage” carried on. The main task being clearing a load of debris from the bank of the Brook, including a large amount of empty cider cans. The plan for this area is to make a timber platform to enable children to watch the brook and do some pond dipping.

The shed is nearing completion, and looking pretty special. The complicated stuff to do next-putting the doorway, benching, and window flap in.

Just before rain/hail/snow stopped play-

In other news we also had a visit from Debbie of Community Life design. One of the smashng folks who have undertaken the fantastic restoration on St. Agnes well in Cothelstone. They kindly asked us to provide some native Lavender plants and floral arrangements for the opening ceremony, more on that soon.

Find out more on the Well Obsessed Facebook page


Spring Orchard Project-Session six

Six of one and half a dozen of the other

A mixed bag weather wise this week, but that didn’t slow us down. The pathway from Hope Corner to the next (as yet unamed) seating area is taking shape.  We put the recycled pallet boards down to see what they looked like and they looked good. Fay started improvising again, and came up with a lovely idea for the edging of the path.

The reconstruction of the shed/wildlife hide continued apace. I think we can now call it a wildlife hide without sniggering.

Hope Corner
Hope Corner

Hope Corner got a marker.







Wildflowers planted out
Wildflowers planted out

And some of the wildlfower seedlings.








As usual Gustav supervised and made sure no worms or invertebrates where left uncovered. I’m not sure who came up with the name Gustav, but I have a suspicion.






Leo growing scales
Leo growing scales

Leo started to grow more scales. See last weeks post to find out more about our pet dragon.








As usual we reluctantly headed indoors to see what was happening in the glasshouse. Our Lavender plants, for planting by our friends at New Leaf Life Design at the opening ceremony of the re-vamped St Agnes Well. Were growing well and are now enhanced with some smashing hand made labels.

We were also treated to the spring delights of the walled gardens.

Spring Orchard Project-Session Five

Living on a prayer

What a happy coincidence of human beings, and only just enough room for everyone in the room this week!

The main job this week was sorting out Hope Corner. To avoid folks getting wet feet when following the path, and to keep the seating from rotting away due to damp, we used about three tonnes of hard core to solve the problem.

I know it doesn’t sound much, but when you have to shift it the length of the orchard by hand in a wheelbarrow on a hot day!

Work on the shed changed direction from destruction to construction!! With a new roof and a start on the cladding, which I’m sure you will agree is an improvement on the corrugated tin.

Our Creative Consultant Fay was having a busy day, firstly she brought some work she had done to leave our mark in the orchard, and then I found her in the bushes by a fallen log. The conversation was a bit surreal-

Kris-“what you doing Fay?”

Fay- “Dragon”.

Sometimes it’s best to just walk away :). Later on Fay called me over and introduced me to Leo our new dragon, fashioned from the fallen log, some recycled nails, and the start of scales made from coins.

What you doing Fay? Dragon.
What you doing Fay? Dragon.

I’m assured that Leo will be fantastic in time 🙂 The idea is that folk will add coins and make wishes if they want, much like the wishing trees at Tarr Steps.

Can you see a dragon yet?
Can you see a dragon yet?

Fay has also been hugely busy with some other artwork including this beautiful log for the path entrance.

Awesome work Fay!
Awesome work Fay!


Elsewhere work continued on restoring the picnic tables, which have faded with time and been vandalised. A start was also made digging the pathway from Hope Corner to the next seating area.

The day finished with a tidy up and a visit to the glasshouse to check on progress.

And finally-


Spring Orchard Project-session four

Fantastic Four!

Another beautiful sunny spring day in the orchard, how lucky are we? Not just because of the great weather and location, but also the fantastic people we have participating, the great work that’s being done and progress made.

We started the day in the glass house planting more seeds. Growing to plant in the orchard and to sell on our table at the Walled Gardens Summer Fair. After a short walk through the blaze of spring colour in the gardens we headed indoors for a session on herbs, their use to help with mental health, and some lovely samples of Lavender biscuits, Thyme crackers and three varieties of herb tea. www.helentheherbalist.co.uk



Helen Whittaker is our trained herbalist and advises us on what herbs to plant and how we can use them to help our mental health. We were treated to Lavender Biscuits, Thyme Crackers, Lavender and Hop tea, Marshmallow root and Thyme tea and Lemon Balm tea. I don’t know about anyone else but I felt marvellous after.

Refreshed and invigorated we headed down to the orchard. Being the Easter holidays we had plenty of company with several families having picnics on the grass. We adopted several dogs and only had to pull one child out of the Brook 🙂

Work on stripping the shed was completed and it’s now ready for its new wooden overcoat. Digging over the wildflower meadow was also thankfully completed, so we should be in time for our seedlings that are coming on strong. Hope corner had a rest this week pending the arrival of some stone in the week, so all being well next week we will be mostly barrowing. Work started on the tree stump and landing stage area (yet to get a name), and with the rest of the path marked out digging started further down.

Spring Orchard Project-Session Three

Third Time Lucky?

Not really, I’m afraid our good weather lucky spell ran out! I suppoes it was too much to expect dry weather the day after Easter Monday.

And Lidl didn’t have any donughts!


Nevertheless we few, we happy few, soldiered on undeterred.

Work on the steps leaving Hope Corner and heading up the rest of the pathway carried on. The plan to line the steps with recycled pallet timber was scuppered when we found out how deep the surface damp went down! This would have meant any wooden pegs used to secure the wood would have rotted in next to no time. Plan B is sleepers, watch this space.

After lunch we cleared around a couple of elder trees on the edge of the path. Warily watched by a couple of Robins, one of whom was christened Gustav. Worreid about disturbing them we moved onto digging over the wildflower area, and guess who followed us! Yup they were after the worms and insects we were disturbing.

Sadly we were then rained and colded off, retreating to the shelter for a spot of sanding in preparation for painting.Followed by a quick check on the wildflowers in the glasshouse, before heading home.