Not for Profit

New partnership at community farm sees Dorset Mind offer its Eco in Mind ecotherapy service

TTD's Kate Forrester (left) and Michelle Markham (right) with Georgia Wollard, of Dorset Mind (second from right) and volunteer Rachel.

By Andrew Diprose [email protected]

Published: April 15, 2024 | Updated: 15th April 2024

A new initiative has seen Dorset Mind take up dedicated space at a community farm and offer its Eco in Mind ecotherapy service.

The mental health charity has partnered with Transition Town Dorchester (TTD) on the venture which will help local people improve their wellbeing.

TTD, a non-profit organisation, has had the volunteer managed community farm project on Duchy land within Poundbury since 2010.

Kate Forrester, Secretary & Fundraiser for Transition Town Dorchester, said: “Dorset Mind is an eagerly anticipated partner for the TTD Community Farm.

“We encourage our own volunteers and others to enjoy the health benefits of spending time in the natural surroundings of the Community Orchard and Food Grow, whilst learning about and practising permaculture sustainable farming methods.

“We are also keen to support Eco in Mind’s initiative to provide freshly grown food produce for Dorchester Community Church, to help people in need who may not be able to participate at the farm themselves.”

Initial preparations to set up the space began last month, following a planned design, and the first group activities have already begun.

New TTD Farm Community Coordinator and Poundbury resident, Michelle Markham, will be working with Georgia Woollard, Dorset Mind’s Dorchester Session Facilitator, to support the new partnership as it develops.

Georgia said: “I’m thrilled to be sharing a space with Transition Town in Dorchester, with a long-term view for plans over the next five or ten years.

“This will allow us to cultivate the land and learn what grows well.

“The site is on a bus route which also makes it accessible to people from different towns and villages in the surrounding area.”

Linda O’Sullivan, Dorset Mind CEO, pictured right, said: “We’re delighted to provide this essential service for adults and young people of Dorchester and welcome the opportunity to partner with Transition Town on the project.

“Georgia has liaised with local schools to help educate students, especially those young people who find it hard to go to school and are at risk of becoming excluded.

“They in particular have benefited from working and learning outside.”

Dorset Mind’s Patron and Principal Academic at Bournemouth University, Dr Andy Mayers, added: “At this time of increasing concerns over the environment, it is refreshing to see a project that uses sustainable farming to promote wellbeing through ecotherapy.”

Georgia, and the Dorset Mind Team, will deliver sessions for adults on Mondays (11.45am to 12.45pm) and Thursdays (10 to 11am).

They will work directly with schools, groups and organisations to offer bespoke sessions all-year round.

Activities include sowing seeds and planting fruit and vegetables; digging, weeding and pruning; seed to plate projects, planning new spaces and upcycling pallets; building raised beds and bird boxes, creating wildlife habitats and nature-based arts and crafts.


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