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ure ‘Ecotherapy can also give people a sense of achievement and purpose, providing structure and routine to people who might not have these in their lives.’ such as gardening or conservation, is emerging as a promising treatment for mild to moderate depression.’ These findings are also supported by a study from the University of Essex that found that a walk in the country reduces depression in 71 per cent of participants. The researchers found that as little as five minutes in a natural setting, whether walking in a park or gardening in the backyard, improves mood, self-esteem, and motivation. A reduction in stress has been proven to lower levels of the stress hormone cortisol, reduce pulse rate and lower blood pressure. The sessions at Bosence are all facilitated by horticulturalist and land manager, Noah Hall, who ensures the grounds are maintained to the highest standard, enabling clients to fully benefit from the incredible natural environment. Over the last few years he has created a woodland nature trail and sensory garden, and is also responsible for an ever increasing harvest of fresh organic produce, grown in several on-site polytunnels and allotments. To complement the ecotherapy sessions, Noah also provides a weekly cookery session to those enrolled on the residential treatment programme, with much of the produce sourced on site. Alongside the structured sessions, residential clients have the option to help with seed sowing, potting on, planting veg and flowers, weeding, watering, strawberry picking, or whatever needs doing, and also have the opportunity to conduct wildlife surveys. Feedback from the sessions has been overwhelmingly positive, with participants commenting that they have found them to be both informative and inspiring, while helping them to feel calm and relaxed. Holly, a local client from Cornwall, says that the ecotherapy project has provided her with a number of new experiences and opportunities. ‘In the last few weeks I’ve acquired the skills to identify a variety of the different types of herbs and through education sessions I’ve gained knowledge on how to combine, prepare and cook different types of tea,’ she says. ‘Since the start of my treatment, I’ve regularly been involved with the planting and harvesting of fruit and vegetables. In particular, I’ve enjoyed taking part in “Vegan Friday”, where I have learnt new recipes and prepared several dishes using only the produce grown on site. When I complete treatment, I will definitely continue to cook these recipes as regularly as I can. ‘I’m looking forward to taking part in mindfulness sessions in the next couple of weeks,’ she adds. ‘I feel so relaxed in such a tranquil and peaceful environment.’ The coming weeks will see the introduction of a formal measurement tool to gauge and monitor client feedback, similar to those we use to evaluate the effectiveness of the various interventions that comprise our treatment programmes. In the longer term, we plan to offer a formal structured 12-week ecotherapy programme that will include sessions such as creative writing and drawing outdoors. We’re lucky that our spacious and diverse site has afforded us with the perfect environment to incorporate such a varied range of ecotherapy techniques into our programmes. Tom Packer is business development manager at Bosence Farm Community, a member of the Choices Treatment Consortium WWW.DRINKANDDRUGSNEWS.COM SEPTEMBER 2020 • DRINK AND DRUGS NEWS • 17