Falkirk volunteers dig in to boost mental health

Julie Law, Sarah Fraser, Dorothy Campbell and Angela Scott.
Julie Law, Sarah Fraser, Dorothy Campbell and Angela Scott.

A ‘pocket allotment’ right next to Falkirk Steeple is now being used to help people look after their mental well-being.

It’s one of several raised beds in and around Falkirk High Street that have been adopted by various groups.

The pocket allotment nearest the iconic Steeple is now under the care of FDAMH (Falkirk District Association for Mental Health).

And two recent workshops, run by Dig in Falkirk, were held to show the volunteers how plants can help promote good mental health.

Sarah Arthur, who led the workshops, said: “We wanted to provide them with the opportunity to socialise whilst learning practical skills, planning and planting up their pocket allotment.”

A highlight for many was picking herbs from some of the more established pocket allotments on the high street then making their own salad dressings.

“People really enjoyed doing that and it showed what you can achieve by making things from fresh ingredients,” said Sarah. “Everyone could make it to suit their own taste, using different vinegars or different herbs.”

The group also chose what they wanted to see growing– in particular plants that they felt symbolised their struggles with mental health.

Sarah said: “The group were keen to have a contorted hazel as they felt this was a symbol of the brain when struggling with mental health – but it also showed the potential for growth and beauty.

“They were also keen to plant bulbs that will die back and bloom again.”

The participants were full of praise for the workshops and how much they had learned from them.

Dig in Falkirk is led by Forth Environment Link, which also held a successful Green Christmas Fayre on December 8, as part of its mission to encourage sustainable living.

They were delighted when it attracted over 100 people through the door of their base in the east end of town, Falkirk Active Travel Hub.

Local kids especially loved making their reindeer pine cone decorations and enjoyed getting their hands dirty with bulb planting.

Julie Ryan said: “It was a great day – so much so that we are already planning more fun events and activities for the New Year!”