Scotswood Natural Community Garden

Scotswood Natural Community Garden

At a glance


  • Animals / wildlife
  • Arts
  • Children / families
  • Education
  • Environment
  • Gardens and parks
  • Local / community
  • Men
  • Mental health
  • Older people / later life
  • Refugees / migrants
  • Training / employment support
  • Women
  • Young people

Other details

Organisation type: 
Geographical remit: 


Scotswood Garden is much more than a community garden. We are an award winning environmental and community organisation based in the heart of our local neighbourhood which is in the highest 10% for multiple deprivation in the UK. We provide a range of education, support, training, health and wellbeing services from our stunning natural, wild site for people aged 0-90.

We use nature based interventions which are proven to improve mental and physical health, strengthen community relationships, and support people to gain new skills, qualifications and experience. In 2017 we worked with 2612 people including 1510 children and young people who participated in forest schools and environmental education workshops with their schools. Our longstanding and successful youth programme provides 4 nature based weekly sessions for ages 5-25; our volunteering programme supports local unemployed adults who look after the garden, gain new skills and accredited training and make friends.

Our Elderberries programme supports older people through volunteering opportunities and nature based sessions and we will soon be starting a new Gardening for Dementia project using social and therapeutic horticulture.  We run regular community events and outreach to engage all members of the community and improve the environment in our area. All our programmes are inclusive and are accessed by children and adults with a wide range of additional needs.

We have a 23 year track record of working with others to improve outcomes for local people affected by poverty and our environment. We provide a vital and trusted community resource and have grown and developed in response to local need through genuine opportunities for local people to shape our services. 


We use nature- based interventions proven to improve health and wellbeing and enable people gain new skills and qualifications, boost confidence, reduce isolation or simply to come together to experience the richness of nature on their doorstep. We achieve our objectives through 6 programmes

  1. Adult Programme which includes the Growing Together Project. The project uses gardening and conservation as tools to enable people to gain new skills, experience and qualifications while improving and maintaining good mental health. We deliver 3 volunteering sessions a week, accredited training, individual guidance and therapeutic gardening. Since August 2017 we have supported 46 volunteers who work outside to maintain the garden. Volunteers gain experience of work in the Gardening or Conservation sectors as well a. Volunteers also cook using produce they have grown, take home fresh vegetables and we have a weekly shared lunch. The project has delivered excellent outcomes so far with local people gaining work in the Gardening/Conservation sectors, improving mental and physical health, forging new connections and growing in confidence.  Northumbria University if currently evaluating the project (report available soon). Please also see volunteers’ videos on social media. Linked to Growing Together, volunteers are trained in food hygiene and cooking, make delicious preserves and sell them at markets.  Since April 2018 they have made 465 jars of preserves which are out selling fast!
  2.  2 Older People’s Programme.  Elderberries delivers supported volunteering sessions combined with  nature based activities and trips for  isolated older people .  Since the start of the project 108 older people have participated with 15 becoming regular volunteers reporting new knowledge of nature and improvements to health and eating habits. We recently completed a pilot Gardening for Dementia project and will be expanding this work from August

3.  Our longstanding Youth Programme for 6 -21 year olds consists of of 4 weekly groups for children who experience severe and multiple disadvantages . Nature Rangers (6-12s) , Nightshade Rangers (12-18s), Art Garden (for disabled children and their friends), Branching Out (18-21s). The groups use outdoor, nature based activities,  such as cooking, bushcraft and environmental arts, to enable young people to eat better, maintain better friendships and have a greater sense of pride in themselves. We also deliver a popular  Duke of Edinburgh Awards scheme an ambitious annual sailing expedition , camps  and trips. Since January 2018  we have supported X children

4. Education Programme delivers 3 large projects.  Wildlife Superheroes has worked with 900 children from 10 schools and 121 adults since in January,  delivering environmental education sessions linked to the curriculum and  supporting children to undertake ‘ Wildlife Action Rescue Tasks’. We deliver forest schools and woodland sessions for schools in our local Dene which is encouraging more local people to use the Dene which is viewed as a no go area.  The Dene is now cleaner and better used. We recently held a summer fun day which 150 people all said they enjoyed and learnt more about nature in their local area.

Since September 2017 our BREEZE forest school programme has worked intensively with children who experience extreme anxiety, social and behavioural difficulties that they unable to attend mainsteam school. The project is being evaluated by Newcastle University and the interim report shows how the intervention is achieving positive outcomes for mental health and educational engagement.  We have trained 31 teachers to become forest school leaders since June 2017.

5. Community Work.  We run 4 large family fun days a year and have recently made changes  to the Garden, improving the apiary, building a new bird hide and developing a new accessible growing space. We recently converted a derelict area , into a wildflower meadow for community use on the high street in Benwell.

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