How Soil Sisters project started
Visiting underfunded refuges, we met the incredible women living there along with the staff working hard in difficult circumstances. We also saw neglected, un-loved gardens and an amazing potential for us to co-create nurturing, safe, welcoming therapeutic gardening spaces.
We knew that that there were many nature based wellbeing projects across the country, supporting people through trauma and recovery, but we could see that it wasn’t being used to support women survivors of abuse, living in domestic violence refuges.
With funding from the National Lottery’s Reaching Communities fund, Wen was able to deliver weekly therapeutic gardening sessions with hundreds of women living in five refuges across East London.
The weekly sessions and the gardens we co-created, working alongside the women, aimed to foster a connection with nature and each other.
Through this we hoped to provide a sense of safety, self-belief, joy and nourishment. How we worked was important to us. Each site had fantastic staff and volunteers from the Soil Sisters team who designed and facilitated sessions and gardens around the desires of the women they met, modelling non-violent ways of being.
Soil Sisters Toolkit
This toolkit shares some of our learnings from the project and our hope is that it will inspire and resource anyone who would like to take on similar valuable work, from support workers, growers to refuge residents themselves. We share our tips for the daunting tasks of creating therapeutic gardens, reflections on the value of therapeutic gardening and importantly some seasonal activity ideas to help you give it a go.
Nature is ripe with metaphors that can be powerful routes to thinking and healing, so for each season we have shared a few key words to help you.
We really hope you will enjoy reading this toolkit and that it will inspire you to create beautiful and healing places for you and others to enjoy.
Other resources and further reading :
Dissertation by Simone due Rasmuseen MSc Gender, Sexuality & Society University of London, Birkbeck College : Spaces of Ecofeminism: Power, Organisation and Values in a Green Care Programme in Women’s Refuges in London