Alive’s dementia-friendly allotment featured on Gardeners’ World this month

After winning a prestigious ‘Dementia Care’ award at the Markel 3rd Sector Care Award in March, our dementia-friendly allotment in Brentry received the ultimate accolade for horticultural groups, a feature on the BBC’s flagship programme for the green-fingered: Gardeners’ World.

Invited to create Bristol’s first and only dementia-friendly allotment by the site representative at Charlton Road Allotments in the spring of 2020, Alive took on the overgrown and neglected plot just days before the nation was plunged into the first lockdown. Over the course of the next year-and-a-half, battling adversity, the gardening team at Alive first tamed the land and made it cultivatable, then designed the space as Bristol’s first dementia-friendly allotment. The team achieved the latter through consultation with local dementia support groups. In January of 2021, the hard work of landscaping started as Alive set about turning the space first into a building site, then into a safe, secure, user-friendly, engaging and stimulating space for the participants they were soon to welcome through the gates.

Following the opening of the allotment by Bristol mayor Marvin Rees in July 2021, the site received a lot of attention. The allotment team were soon in discussion with a researcher at Gardeners’ World who was so inspired by what they were doing, that she wanted to feature the plot on the programme and use it as an example of the difference that gardening in general and therapeutic horticulture, in particular, can make to people’s lives.

Alive welcomed the BBC to the plot in August this year, along with many of the allotment participants, all of whom were as excited as the team was. All present enjoyed a beautiful day, with many of the participants in their element, chatting about the work they do at the allotment and what the space means to them.

The allotment is a massive testament to the people who work it week in and week out and who have shaped how it looks and feels. The programme will highlight the positive impact gardening can have on the lives of those who live with dementia. It will also help to cement the work Bristol is doing to show the potential community gardening has to unite communities and improve the health and wellbeing of its residents. 

“It has been quite a whirlwind year for the allotment! After running our first session in August 2021, it’s been one amazing experience after another. At the heart of what we do is the people who’ve visited the allotment, so we’re very excited that Gardeners’ World chose to make them, and not us, the focus of the programme. They have made the allotment what it is today. We can’t wait to continue the allotment’s story and hope it will benefit many more people living with dementia over the next few years,” shared Guy Manchester, Community Allotment Project Officer.

The special feature of Bristol’s only dementia-friendly allotment in Brentry aired on Gardeners’ World on BBC Two on Friday the 7th of October at 8pm and is available to watch in iPlayer. We have since received a lot of positive praise following the episode, from both the local community and nationally. Thank you for all your support!

Watch the episode here:

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