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Volunteers Turning Muck into Magic at SERC’s Therapy Garden

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Volunteers Turning Muck into Magic at SERC’s Therapy Garden

A band of green fingered volunteers are helping turn the grounds of SERC’s Holywood Campus into a Horticultural Therapy Garden for the local community.

SERC lecturer, Claire Dunwoody said, “Prior to the pandemic, SERC secured funding to develop a horticultural therapy garden for the Holywood community through funding from the Ulster Garden Villages Ltd Grant Fund.

She added, “Over the last few years there has been a growing body of evidence supporting the benefits of horticultural therapy, community growing, green spaces and outdoor education for physical and mental well-being. This exciting project will provide a horticultural therapy space for the local community, and we are delighted to say that, with the support of volunteer effort, the project is well underway for our launch date on 19 November.”

Volunteer Aoife Connolly, from Holywood, explained why she got involved. She said, “I have always had an interest in gardening and following a move from London to a house with a large garden, I was spurred to learn more and to develop it as part of my new family home, so I enrolled in SERC and completed the RHS Certificate in Horticulture in 2020 and the ONC Level 2 in Garden Design this past year.

“When I heard about the planned Horticulture Therapy Garden, I was keen to get involved and have been volunteering my time along with some of the other past students from the Horticulture and Garden Design courses.  There is great camaraderie, and we all enjoy working outside and seeing the garden develop.

She added, “This past year has highlighted for everyone the importance of green space for both physical and mental health.   During those early days of lockdown, I think we all took a step back and had time to recognise the benefit of getting outside and being surrounded by nature.  I think it is fantastic that, when complete, the SERC Holywood Campus grounds will provide a beautiful green space that can be enjoyed by everyone and used as a resource to involve the local community.”

A consultant solicitor who has changed career into garden design, Aoife concluded, “Gardening is so hopeful.  It is so satisfying to plant one tiny seed and watch it turn into say, an annual full of blooms in a matter of months which gives joy all summer.”

It’s not too late to volunteer to get involved in the garden build!   If you have a couple of hours to spare on a Tuesday, contact Horticulture Lecturer, Claire Dunwoody by email

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Pic 1 Aoife Connolly, Holywood.

Pic 2  Wendy Barrett, Celeine Graffin and Patricia Logan, Holywood.

Pic 3 Claire Dunwoody, Horticulture Lecturer at SERC who is overseeing the development of the Horticultural Therapy Garden.

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