Mental health gardening charity to supply Tebay Services

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Food grown as part of the project will be supplied to Tebay Services’ farm shop and kitchen

A gardening charity which helps people struggling with mental health will supply salads to an M6 service station.

Growing Well, which helps people deal with grief, depression and anxiety, has expanded its services to include a kitchen garden at Tebay Services.

Sharon Rodhouse, whose husband took his own life, said it had helped her though the “dark periods”.

She is one of about 100 people from Eden and north Cumbria to be helped by the charity this year.

Volunteers are referred to the project by GPs and mental health services and work under the supervision of growers and mental health support staff.

The charity said talking about difficulties while tending to the plants gave people an opportunity to reflect, learn new skills and meet new people.

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Volunteer Sharon Rodhouse joined the initiative to help her deal with the death of her husband

“My husband died by suicide last year and it shattered my world and I needed to start to find things to help me through the dark periods,” said Mrs Rodhouse

“Coming here if I’m having a difficult day and being around the people and the structure is super helpful and I always feel better at the end of the day when I go home.”

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About four million people stop at Tebay Services every year and the initiative offers them opportunity to talk about mental health

Earlier this year the Kendal-based charity was given a rent-free site at Tebay Services Northbound, near Penrith.

Paul Cambre, head of horticulture at Growing Well, said they were planning to produce 110 to 220lbs (50 to 100kg) of salad a week, which would go straight to the salad bar at the services.

“Everyone understands we’re not planting plants for the sake of it,” he said.

“A lot of volunteers feel the impact they’ve made and that the money goes back into the charity to support the next person who comes after them.”

Produce sold at the services and farm shop will cover about 20% of the projects running costs.

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