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Bracknell SEND students get involved in mental health boosting gardening project at Jealott’s Hill Community Landshare

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Students from Bracknell and Wokingham College have got closer to nature by taking part in a gardening project with Jealott’s Hill Community Landshare.

Jealott’s Hill Community Landshare is an inspirational six-acre (multi-purpose) garden for community use. Located between Bracknell and Maidenhead, the gardens are enjoyed by the local community supporting each other on horticultural activities and creating a haven for wildlife for all to enjoy. Sharing skills and produce is at the heart of the project, with local groups and individuals growing fruit, vegetables, other plants and enhancing bio-diversity.  

The project is a partnership between Silva Homes, Bracknell Town Council, Warfield Parish Council and Syngenta. The land is owned by Syngenta and leased for community use.

Students studying Foundation and Supported Studies programmes at the Church Road campus were given a plot of land, which they have been working on since September. 

Nine students have been working on the plot throughout the year, working in six-week rotations.  

Due to the location of the landshare, the project is open to any students studying Foundation and Supported Studies programmes, who live in the Bracknell Forest area. The students use the R bus, provided by Bracknell Forest Council to help SEND learners to travel from the college to the land share. 

The students were given a plot on the landshare as a blank canvas. They had to turn the soil over and have planted herbs, beetroot, parsnips, cauliflower, tomatoes and onions, as well as flowers including pansies and poppies. 

Taking part in the gardening benefits the students’ mental health as it allows them to experience nature, get outside and take their minds off things.  

It also provides an opportunity for students to talk to staff from the Lifeskills faculty at Activate Learning and staff at Jealott’s Hill Community Landshare. 

As well as teaching them life skills which they can use in the future, seeing something grow provides them with a sense of achievement. 

It is hoped that in the future the students will be able use the produce to cook dishes at college and help them to learn how to cook. 

The students can also do arts and crafts and have painted pebbles, pots and wooden spoons to decorate their plot and help identify different plants.  

Amber Latter, Supported Foundation Pathway Tier 2 student at Bracknell and Wokingham College, said: “I enjoy doing the gardening. I like helping with the planting and doing the weeding.”

Miriam White, Intensive Support Advisor – SEND at Activate Learning, said:

“”Having our own plot of land at the Landshare has given the students ownership of the project. They have decided what to plant, where to plant it and have grown everything from seeds.  

“Working at the Landshare is beneficial to our students in many ways. They have learnt about the environment, local animals, engaged not only in gardening activities but also arts and crafts and spent time in the great outdoors enjoying all the benefits we know that comes with.  

“We are very proud of all their hard work and hope to be able to start using their produce in cooking lessons next year.” 

Kate Darrall, Project Manager at Jealott’s Hill Community Landshare, said:

“Over a partnership of many years, students have visited Jealott’s Hill Community Landshare, taking part in a variety of volunteering and work experience opportunities, supported by friendly and dedicated staff.

“Students have been seen to not only grow produce and plants, but have grown in confidence, social and practical skills, focus and work-minded approach, which is a pleasure to support and work with Activate Learning.” 

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