Garden initiative gets off the ground

Gardening at Whitegates

Much progress is being made already in AEM's new gardening initiative, which launched in the autumn.

The scheme got off the ground in September to offer autistic adults with the opportunity to learn new skills that could help them move into work. While some service users have got involved in planning the gardens for next year, others have got physically involved by taking part in preparing the ground as well and planting spring bulbs.

Garden Team Supervisor, Chris Jesson, has worked with Positive Behaviour Practitioner, Adam Powdrill, on ways to introduce service users to the garden initiative. The accessible information about the service is being shared using InPrint technology to invite people across AEM's support services to take part.

The information also includes a choice board of bulbs to share at service user-voice meetings and to encourage more people to have an input in what plants are grown in their gardens.


Over the coming year, service users will be able to get involved in maintaining the gardens, which could provide them with a stepping stone into volunteer or paid employment.

“The service aims to help create opportunities for our service users so they can have an input in shaping their own spaces, enjoy being in that space and learn new skills too,” says Chris.

“Each of the gardens will be guided by service users themselves as far as possible. They will decide how their garden looks, what plants they’d like to see and how the space will be used.”

The service will harness different means of making gardening accessible. This might be through physical planting or selecting flora and fauna using visual aids. Whatever their ability, everyone who wants to have an input can.

Those that do have a passion for gardening will get every support to learn new skills or work towards qualifications and, should they wish to, can aim for volunteer or paid work in gardening.

Garden planning at Poplars
Bulb planting at fairview
Whitegates SWP 211123 27

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