Daily Archives: May 10, 2015


imageRecently I had an email from a patient asking if I would  support them in attending a course with MindFood. I had to admit I didn’t know what this was about and emailed Ed Harkness from MindFood to let me know what this was all about. After reading about it on the website I asked if I could blog about as not only was I interested in this venture but I would like to promote it.​

MindFood has a vision to see people with mental health issues recover, find healing and go on to achieve their potential through growing and selling food.

They run a sensory market garden in Ealing West London
They offer people with a wide range of mental health issues a therapeutic environment where those attending can learn to sow, plant and grow a variety of fruit and vegetables.
They then go on to sell ‘food that’s good for your mood’ into local communities.

I have to say I am a keen gardener and have been all my life- I have never been  far from a garden and if is no coincidence that the consulting room looks out on a garden. I remember as a small child having a patch to grow vegetables and there was nothing more thrilling than watching things grow and even  more exciting tasting the crops . I always enjoyed growing kale, spinach and sprouting purple broccoli as they all guarantee a good productive harvest from a small packet of seeds. It amuses me now to hear my children telling me now to buy them because they are today’s superfoods! Kale chips are a strong favourite- simply bake prepared kale with olive oil or even better coconut oil at 180F  for about 15 minutes and sprinkle some chilli and paprika and sea salt on them –  delicious family favourite.

My dear uncle was a gardener for the Council and had been brain damaged after a very traumatic birth but he had a major influence on my love for gardening. He could barely read or write but he knew how to garden. He could make frozen peas grow – nothing better than his homegrown Birds Eye peas! He could tell you the colour of a tulip by the bulb and prune a tree skillfully. I loved being with him in the garden and learnt so much from him but most of all I loved the peaceful atmosphere that I felt as we chatted and worked together.

When I was in Wales as a GP it was not unusual for me to be summoned from the garden, toss of my wellies to visit a patient when I was on all each weekend. Patients knew of my interest and when they came with their various complaints would also be asking about the state of the garden or pass on tips to get rid of blight, slugs or the like.

It has been my greatest joy since I have partially retired to do more gardening. I am aware of the hours of pleasure gardening has  given me over many years,  a chance to unwind, get rid of inner frustrations by digging and a sense of achievement after weeding an overrun flowerbed or harvesting crops. I am writing this after a day in the garden – trimming the conservation hedge I planted a 3 years ago and now well established providing food and homes for several families of birds. I planted my spinach and purple sprouting broccoli along with other vegetables and will look forward again to gathering the crops later this year and weeded my herb garden.

My garden last year – summer 2014. I have created this over the past 3 years since my partial retirement and it has become my Paradise.


I was delighted when my half Danish grandson decided to call me ‘Drangma’  which is the Danish for ‘ big digger’. He obviously felt it was appropriate as one of our main activities together has been digging in the garden.

It is not surprising that I was so pleased to hear about this project which supports all that I would say about gardening.


I strongly commend this course to anyone who has had moderate or severe depression and for anyone else to either look at the website or visit the site to consider volunteering to help support ythisworthwhile project.

MindFood CIC
Cleveley Crescent,
W5 1DZ

MindFood is launching a new ‘Growing Wellbeing’ 6 week course that focuses on the 5 ways to wellbeing in a food growing environment. The course is designed to be a fun balance of learning how to grow a wide range of fruit and vegetables whilst becoming more mindful of ways to improve our wellbeing.

The course is action orientated so each week we’ll discuss and commit to a specific action that will help improve our wellbeing between each session and ongoing after the course.

The five ways to wellbeing are 5 simple and practical steps that we can all take to improve our levels of wellbeing. The graphic below is an outline of the 5 ways to wellbeing and an indication of how this course will help you to engage with each one. s the course right for me?

Do you feel that poor mental health is having a negative impact on your quality of life? This course is aimed at people who experience mild to moderate depression, anxiety and other common mental health problems. The course is also for people who want to help prevent the onset of mental ill health e.g. an episode of depression.

When does the course run?

Our courses runs on Monday mornings and Friday afternoons. The next course starts on the 12th June. (Please note lunch is not provided)

Where is the course based?

We are based in Ealing, West London on a group of allotments which are a 5 minute walk from Hanger Lane Tube station or on bus routes 83, 112, 226, 95, 487. A map of our location can be found here.

What is the cost of the course?

The 6-week course costs £30 (£5 per session). The course is subsidised through the support of MindFood’s funders.

How do I sign up?

Please register your interest or direct any queries by emailing
Alternatively you can complete the referral form and send to Ed so that we can assess whether this course would be suitable for your needs.

How many people will be on the course?

The course is limited to 6 places.

Are there other courses or opportunities that MindFood offers?

Upon completion of the 6-week course you will have the opportunity to join MindFood’s Plot to Plate programme that offers longer-term opportunities to be part of our ecotherapy social enterprise.


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