Growing Wellbeing - A Crop Club journey
Rose, The Crop Club founder, shares why growing wellbeing is a centrepiece of The Crop Club and what the team is doing to make the journey towards wellbeing greater for all.
Ensuring Wellbeing in myself and others is important to me.
Because, a number of years ago, I took time off due to Chronic Fatigue Syndrome and I found the return to work difficult. It was hard to maintain health alongside with meeting expectations from bosses who lacked empathy for my health.
For me, the main purpose of setting up The Crop Club was and still is, to allow me to lead a lifestyle of growing food and spending time outdoors. Currently, apart from not finding time to tend my own garden, I am busy collaborating with people to get everyone growing and when I need it, I can take a break.
From the very beginning of the Crop Club adventure, I was aware of the health and wellbeing benefits of growing your own food and getting closer to nature. Dr Miles Richardson, head of psychology at the University of Derby describes it well ''There is already research evidence that exposure to nature can reduce hypertension (abnormally high blood pressure), respiratory tract and cardiovascular illnesses; improve vitality and mood; benefit issues of mental wellbeing such as anxiety; and restore attention capacity and mental fatigue. But more than that, feeling a part of nature has been shown to significantly correlate with life satisfaction, vitality, meaningfulness, happiness, mindfulness, and lower cognitive anxiety BBC, 2017)''
This type of evidence encourages me even further to dedicate my energy to bring nature within the workplace and communities.
Last December, we met with Imago Venues to discuss a new gift idea for miniature office gardens for them to give to their customers. One statistic stuck in my mind as part of the brief:
‘'the events industry is the 5th most stressful in the world'’ Careercast 2017.
Drinking tea is the English answer to reducing stress and yet when I did some research I found that within the workplace the tea break is under threat. The tea break dates back around 200 years, but workplace pressures are stopping people finding time for a tea break or sneaking off to make a cuppa for themselves as opposed to having a communal tea break. We created an office tea garden gift basket complete with seeds to grow herbal teas apple mint and lemon balm. To encourage office tea breaks whilst the plants are growing, each kit comes with a leaf tea such as raspberry or nettle or a flower tea such as elderflower or chamomile. Each kit has a packet on unbleached drawstring tea bags to allow people to make their own blend.
In March, I went to Health and Wellbeing in the Workplace Show at the NEC. Passport to Wellbeing, an organisation that provides innovative software solutions to improve wellbeing in organisations had a stand and shared some of our growing kits. Gail from Passport to Wellbeing reminded us the extent to which employees in workplaces sometimes do not take the time to pause and notice when they are not feeling well to the point that one day they are not as productive, become absent and ill. It is why wellbeing in the workplace is a priority.
At the show, I also had the opportunity to explore the exhibition stands. I had a great discussion with a lovely person from the Department of Work and Pensions about how we can support future employees with physical disabilities and mental health issues to work with us. I also received a great deal of information on services that can ensure our staff wellbeing is kept high such as counselling session for staff. Marie and I are always talking about how we can support people within our direct communities.
Being exposed to what organisations can do to improve staff wellbeing encouraged me once more to take care of myself as a business owner. It is often too easy to forget about our own needs when we are driven by the needs of others and I am regularly being reminded of this.
In the community this month, we visited two wellbeing projects. We ran a workshop at the Wellbeing Cafe in Loughborough where members coloured pots and sowed seeds to take home. The workshop transpired so much creativity and humour, we were humbled by the experience. We also visited a support group in Shepshed called Changes where we facilitated a discussion on starting a community garden project at the Glenmore Centre. As the discussion went on, the group real
ised the wealth of skills and resources they had that they could apply to the site. We are excited to say that we will be supporting them with seeds and equipment in the forthcoming year.
It is an exciting time for us with lots of potential projects for the future in the pipeline from the people we have met and lots of potential to improve wellbeing and health through the joy of growing food.