APCG is an inclusive, accessible community resource in the heart of Faversham, providing companionship, therapeutic activities, training and skill building for people with mental health issues and those who are socially isolated. The garden has supported people with mental health problems for 25 years but was established as a formal charity in 2007. We have over 328 members with between 70 and 95 people taking part in our activities each week. The garden is a member led organization. The members appoint the trustees and play an active role in decisions about the garden and how it is organized in the monthly members meetings.
We have 7 part time staff and a board of 8 active trustees who bring diverse skills and lived experience of mental health and as carers. Our mission is Growing a Healthy Community – a reflection of both our focus on health and well-being and the importance of the community of peers who support each other with their lived experience. We also have an active group of volunteers who help maintain the garden and provide additional support to our members.
We are open 7 days a week from 10am-2pm. Tuesdays is reserved for people undertaking formal horticulture training. On Saturdays the garden is staffed entirely by volunteers and members.
APCG serves the people of Faversham and Kent, by providing a place of tranquillity, safety and well-being, founded on a core belief in the therapeutic value of gardening. We actively support people isolated by their mental or physical health, or social and economic disadvantage, and we give them a community to feel a part of. We receive referrals from a range of sources aside from word of mouth – Live Well Kent, Housing Associations, MIND, Kent and Medway Partnership Trust, Age UK, GPs and carers’ organisations. The Physic Garden is a place free of judgement, and full of welcome.
The core activities for APCG members are, naturally, the work of tending to, maintaining and improving the ever-changing gardens and grounds, fostering the spirit of community which we cherish. There is something for all: the physically active may choose to take part in digging, landscaping, planting, weeding and watering. Those who wish to do so can take these interests further and study for an NOCN Level 1 in Practical Horticulture. These City and Guilds qualifications are accredited, through our partnership with Hadlow College. Those looking to connect might make tea for and conversation with other members and visitors, while others can find peaceful refuge from a life outside which may be chaotic or troubled. The benefits that people gain include social connections, self-confidence, physical and emotional well-being, and not least the simple knowledge that people care for them.
The skills of our horticulture students and a committed group of members at the Physic Garden were put to the test at the 2018 Hampton Court Flower Show where, for the second year running, we designed and constructed a silver medal-winning display garden – but APCG has much more to offer besides gardening. We have a community kitchen where members can learn about nutrition and food hygiene, how to make healthy delicious food on a budget or cooking for special diets, or even gain a food safety certificate. These programmes in turn provide opportunities for members to share a communal meal. We offer numerous craft skills sessions, including basket making, floristry and wood turning. We bring in partner organisations to offer a wider range of opportunities such as first aid courses, mindfulness and well-being and workshops to help people come with social anxiety and depression.
Then, beyond the safety of the Physic Garden’s walls, members are engaging with the wider community, and giving back, by helping to care for neglected and overgrown green public spaces.
APCG is an active participant in Faversham’s many festivals so there are plenty of opportunities for members to make, grow, sell and serve things to the wider public.
That many of our regular members make the trip to reach us from neighbouring towns, and further afield, speaks volumes for the almost unique service the Abbey Physic Community Garden provides within Kent. In this modern take on a ‘Physic Garden’, it is not herbs or potions which provide healing, it is the garden itself, and the people who come here.
Sponsors, Collaborations & Associates
We wouldn’t be here without the support of our friends, members, organisations and groups that recognise the needs we provide.
With much thanks and gratitude to them all.