Scottish Parliament sees first-hand the importance of gardens for health and wellbeing

On Tuesday, 12 March, the charity Trellis and the Horticultural Trades Association (HTA) arranged for politicians and their staff to visit organisations that demonstrate how horticulture can deliver health and wellbeing benefits to vulnerable people and their communities. 

These visits were organised in conjunction with the HTA's Scottish Environmental Horticulture Growth Strategy, which highlights the link between health and horticulture. The visits focused on the power of the natural environment as a health-promoting asset and how domestic gardens can provide significant physical and mental health benefits. The benefits of horticulture include recovery from illness, physical activity, weight impact, birth outcomes, and cardiovascular, mental and social health consequences.  

After the visits, the HTA hosted the Cross Party Group (CPG) for Gardening and Horticulture for their Annual General Meeting at Holyrood on the same day. The discussions centred on the health and wellbeing benefits of green spaces and the role of social and therapeutic horticulture in reducing pressure on the NHS. Trellis discussed the benefits delivered and challenges faced by many practitioners and shared their work to create the UK Professional Association for Social & Therapeutic Horticulture and the UK’s very first accredited qualification for practitioners, developed with Scottish colleges.  

Commenting on the programme of visits: 

Stan Green, Chair of HTA Scottish Policy Group and Trellis Board member:  

“It was incredibly powerful to see the work that is going on across Edinburgh that uses the value of plants and gardening to make a difference to so many lives. For MSPs and CPG members to learn more about the work of these organisations is an invaluable step in increasing awareness of the tangible benefits horticulture offers.  All of the discussions were underpinned by the shared acknowledgement that the benefits of the environmental horticulture sector must be recognised and utilised by policymakers to deliver health, wellbeing, climate, and social objectives.”  

Fiona Thackeray, CEO of Trellis: 

“Trellis supports therapeutic horticulture projects across Scotland to thrive in all public spaces through supporting practitioners. These visits allowed us to showcase a small selection of the 500 gardens we work with and some of the incredible work going on in communities. It was also an opportunity to highlight to MSPs and CPG members some of the difficulties that are being experienced by organisations who are largely privately funded and whose value is under-recognised by policymakers.”  

Rachael Hamilton, MSP, Convenor of the Gardening and Horticulture CPG: 

“It was a privilege to spend time in the gardens with the staff who work so hard for communities across Scotland. The visits made it abundantly clear that access to green space and engagement with nature through horticulture can have a positive impact on mental health and wellbeing, as well as physical health. By incorporating horticulture into healthcare, social care, and education, the sector can help to reduce pressure on the NHS and contribute to a more sustainable future. The CPG for Gardening and Horticulture is committed to advocating for greater recognition of the benefits of the sector.” 


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