Over the past three years we have delivered weekly therapeutic gardening sessions in five women’s refuges in East London for survivors of domestic violence.  This has been an immensely rewarding experience for both the Wen team and the women we work alongside.  Sadly, the COVID-19 crisis meant we weren’t able to deliver safely, but we are looking forward to starting up again in spring.  Here we share a snapshot of how the project supported women through traumatic transitions by co-creating gardens to enjoy and offering weekly therapeutic gardening sessions that use nature, food and gardening as a way to grow and heal.  

“Do not feel lonely, the entire universe is inside you”  Soil Sister

Growing food and gardening

“We often grow plants from ‘home’ which can help women feel connected including chilli’s, roses, kodu and coriander.”

“Loving these gifts added to the garden, collected by one of the women from the cast offs left on garden walls”

“This workshop helped me to get back in touch with what I feel that life is all about and because of this I felt emotional today.  I have had some extremely nasty experiences in life and was feeling that this is not a world for me. However, today I’ve seen the gentle side of this world again, it has made a big difference to me.  Thank you so much for running this!!!” 

“Talk about a before and after pic!.  This was Kyra when we started, now look at it!”

“Almost complete Kyra Garden – just the grass seed to sow”

When I get back at night I stand in the kitchen in the dark and look out.  The garden lit up, looks so beautiful” Soil Sister 

Cooking together and Sharing Food

“An amazing session at Limborough gardens! We had 6 residents attend cooking Jollof rice, Mexican beans, coleslaw, tomato salad and polenta and orange cake.  Delish!”

“Another beautiful day in Zafina.  Pottering around the garden followed by the most delicious aubergine curry made by one of the residents.  Most of the salad was from the garden!”

“Relaxing session creating herbal tea bags.”

Nature inspired creativity

“One of our lovely residents recently left and we Skyped her during our session and she was showing us all the art and plants she’s brought with her from the refuge. Saying how much she enjoyed it and how much she’ll miss the sessions”

“From a group who said ‘I can’t draw’, it’s stressful’ to producing beautiful pieces of art with classical music playing in the background saying ‘this is very relaxing’… it was a real turnaround.

“We Created vision boards for 2020 to help us visualise what we want for our future”