Midlothian Community Hospital Gardens

The Midlothian Community Hospital Gardens (MCHG) is an NHS Lothian initiative with a mission to make opportunities for good food and healthy lifestyles available to the local community. The gardens have a particular focus on welcoming people who are experiencing mental or physical health problems, disadvantage, isolation or poverty. Services include:• Gardening: growing and eating local food while building community and developing skills. • Walks, workshops, events, and a range of 'hands on' activities. • Advice and support for those trying to improve their lives or the lives of others through the provision of good food and good health.

Midlothian Community Hospital Gardens has been running since 2012 and is becoming firmly embedded in the local community. Located within the grounds of the hospital, the gardens offer fantastic opportunities to grow your own food, build community, and keep active. There is an emphasis on improving people’s health through gardening, healthy eating and social inclusion.

Patients, staff and visitors to the hospital can enjoy the garden, which is wheelchair accessible and has ample seating. The hospital has a large dementia unit, so the garden is a real asset for occupational therapists who use it for walks with patients. It has made a big difference to staff and visitors alike to have this resource on the doorstep, reducing the need to get into the car with patients for a change of scenery. There are two large raised sensory beds so that people can garden from a sitting position.

The garden is a lovely combination of flowers, fruit and vegetables, making it pretty and productive. The produce grown is sold to Toot for Fruit, an initiative run by Loan Head Miners Club, which makes good, affordable food accessible to the local community. Income generated from vegetable sales helps to sustain the project and gives the garden a wider purpose than growing vegetables for those immediately involved to enjoy. In return for helping out people can take some produce home at the end of the day.

Volunteers to the gardens come from a variety of backgrounds, from college placements, school groups, long term unemployed, retired and those with mental or physical health problems. It is a lovely, sociable place to come for the whole day, or just a couple of hours, and there are gardening tasks to suit all abilities. Tools, hot drinks and support are all provided.

The gardens also run a programme of workshops on gardening and wildlife which are free and open to all. These range in topics such as creating a wildflower meadow to building bee hotels and composting