Over the years Sara has gained qualifications in care and teaching and has experience in working with clients with learning difficulties and mental health challenges. These experiences have given her deep insights into personal development and a greater understanding of psychology and human behaviour.
In parallel she has developed and managed numerous community based horticultural therapy projects that have delivered significant benefits to her clients – including projects for Shaw Trust and Reading Borough Council. There are a few examples of her services below:
Consultant for Green Health Reading
Currently commissioned by Green Health Reading to research, design and implement the phased development of a project based around the vision of developing a City Farm in Reading for local people within our community. The first phase is designed around health and well-being.
The Mustard Tree
Sara led a small project working with young people who were not in employment education or training (NEET) to teach them a range of life and work skills based around a horticulture project. Many of the clients weren’t initially interested in gardening, but after a while many found they actually enjoyed it – with some moving onto work or education.
Sara also volunteered for the Wildlife Trust situated at Chimney Meadows as a key volunteer using her skills as a landscape architect. With this she helped with the design and implementation of wetland enhancement project linked with the million pond project. Creating new habitats and habitat enhancement for Aquatic species at risk of extinction nationally. Within a year an Otter was spotted, the following year Water Voles and Snipe.
Volunteering also included designing & building a pond that was laid by the RAF under her supervision. This was in addition to the planting of hedgerows and research work for management plans which contributed to best practice application across their many reserves.
In addition to this the reserve was re-modelled to create a flood enhancement area with in the reserve. This both helped reduce the risk of flooding up stream and contributed to the ecological management of the ancient wet meadows which are nationally scarce.
Sara worked with Shaw Trust on a project funded by the pioneering mental health charity eco-minds. The project offered horticultural therapy to people challenged with mental health. The project provided a holistic approach to well-being via learning and participating in growing vegetables using organic principles and practices. Clients also learnt how to become self-sustainable by growing organic vegetables for themselves and eating a healthy diet. Introducing much needed nutrients and fibre into their daily diets. Which in itself improves mental health.
Many clients were able to reduce the support they needed from other services and had their medication reduced because of their improved health.
The project had a immensely positive effect on the volunteers who built new careers both in and outside of horticulture including going on to run similar projects themselves.
72 clients benefited from the project with significant improvements in their mental and physical health. A strong bond was built between both clients and volunteers and the project had further positive effects that extended into the community.