Started in 2015, the Recovery Garden Group is run by volunteers to support people in recovery from substance misuse. The project is supported by Aberdeen City Council who provide a polytunnel where the group meet. Each year a core group of participants decide what they want to grow at the start of the year and then plant, care for and harvest the produce to either use themselves or give to other vulnerable people in the community.
The group have participated in Keep Scotland Beautiful, ‘It’s your neighbourhood’ achieving progressively good results including a Certificate of Distinction, Level 5 in 2019. They helped the Aberdeen entry for Britain in Bloom by partnering with the council and others to provide small planters for shop keepers and maintaining a larger planter which is dedicated to people who have lost their lives due to addiction. These are planted with flowers and plants that reflect hope and remembrance. Involvement with the project also led to some group members becoming beekeepers with the Aberdeen Urban Bee project. This influences the plants grown as they want them to be pollinator friendly.
As with all projects 2020 has been particularly challenging but the volunteers kept the project running. Growing and gardening is particularly beneficial for people in recovery as it allows them to get absorbed in something where they feel needed with something positive to show for their hard work. It also introduces them to other areas of life therefore reducing stigma in the community.