Enhancing Wellbeing in the Kitchen Garden with MindFood

Since the launch of Growing Together at Chiswick House back in 2021, Ealing-based charity Mindfood has been a key partner in helping us to develop and deliver our community programme.

Here Camila Phelps, MindFood’s Horticultural Therapist, shares some of the work we’ve been doing together in the Kitchen Garden to support local groups to gain confidence and enhance well-being through gardening. 

Over the past 12 months, MindFood has developed bespoke programmes within the historic walled Kitchen Garden at Chiswick House. We’ve loved working with different community groups on this project including members of Deaf Women Ealing and the Masbro Elders Project. 

At MindFood we are focused on enhancing well-being through nature. We achieve this by taking notice, connecting with others, being active, learning something new and giving. There is positive and scientific proof that we can all benefit our mental health through nature.   

The MindFood sessions at Chiswick House have been co-designed in partnership with local community groups to meet their specific needs and to reflect the changing seasons with what’s being sown, grown and harvested in the Kitchen Garden. We have also been introducing participants to the history, beauty and sensory delights of the garden while showing them how being in nature and growing food can boost their well-being.   


Thank you so much!  I’ve learnt so much – I’ve learnt about tomatoes, vegetables.  I learnt about tomatoes being hungry for food!  I learnt about potatoes, onions. And I’ve really enjoyed it – the fresh air, teaching us about different things in the garden; the peace and quiet; meditation; I’m going to remember this when I look back and I really appreciate what you’ve given us.

Deaf Women Ealing Group 

We’ve sown broad beans and peas in toilet rolls, grown microgreens in recycled containers, planted garlic, onion, salads and herbs; harvested chard, kale, kiwis and made pickles, pestos and preserves. We’ve also been a bit creative, sketching and pressing flowers and woven seasonal wreaths too. We’ve even been lucky enough to take home some of the glorious floral treats from the cutting garden too. 

It has been a very pleasant morning learning about the plants and herbs, especially the edible flowers which I did not know all these years. I have also learnt about growing plants from seeds which is great. Thank you very much.

Masbro Elders Project 

Through all these activities we’ve explored and shared our own memories of growing and eating. So often these come from childhood and we’ve heard stories of savouring the juice of ripe mangoes picked fresh from the tree, of herbs used in the Caribbean, how to stuff cabbage leaves in Slovenia, and making medicinal teas in Chile.  The Masbro Elders group was able to return for an autumn season, which gave some participants the chance to experience the Kitchen Garden in a different season and feel part of the growing process as we revisited the community beds to see what we had planted earlier in the year and taste what other gardeners had planted too.  

We shared recipes, ideas, tips and stories stimulated by the herbs and vegetables in the garden and memories of particular culinary uses, foods and medicinal plants used by our mothers and grandmothers. The preserving and pickling session went down particularly well!

Masbro Elders Project 

Many of the participants had never picked up a trowel or sown a seed before or visited Chiswick House & Gardens before. The sessions have been a wonderful opportunity to have a go at growing and creating, inspired by the wealth of productive gardening all around us. We look forward to more collaborative projects with Chiswick House & Gardens throughout 2023. 

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