Only three years ago Cynon Valley Organic Adventures site, home to the Green Valley Conservation and Heritage project, was a derelict wasteland. Today, it has been reformed into a community garden, helping the people of this former Welsh mining village improve their employability skills and wellbeing through gardening and connecting with nature.
The Green Valley Conservation and Heritage project is helping the people of a former Welsh mining village improve their employability skills and wellbeing through gardening and connecting with nature.
Director Janis Werrett realised the potential of the space and started a project that has not just transformed the space, but lives too.
Today, the community garden runs along the edge of the river with a wet woodland area, an old orchard, a large pond and a number of poly-tunnels and allotment spaces which grow food for their foodbank. A rustic cafe has also been built, as well as a solar powered compost toilet.
None of this would have been possible without the help of the volunteers from The Green Valley Wellbeing Group who work in partnership with Organic Adventures to restore and protect this valuable resource for their community. Their mission is to show people how spending time in natural spaces can boost their health and wellbeing. They engage their members through a summer school, green gym, outdoor activities and through programmes for disengaged youths.
They also work closely with autistic young people and anyone experiencing mental health issues, forging wide-ranging links with community groups, autistic support networks, job centres and schools, as well as accepting social prescription referrals from GP surgeries. The emphasis is on harnessing the benefits of nature to improve wellbeing and employability.Janis says: “I’ve seen massive changes in children being outdoors, to the point that they don't recognise the person that they used to be. After spending years in school and being excluded from the mainstream because of their lack of academic skills, when they come here they realise that they do have skills. I see people growing and watch all those little changes in them that they might not see in themselves.”
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