A clinic with a difference

diabetes gardenDiabetes Out There (DOT) is a specialist service for children and young people with type 1 diabetes.  They are trialling an innovative new monthly garden clinic, and last month saw the inaugural workshop. The children engaged in activities focused around the effects of exercise on blood glucose, and planted up a fabulous spiral garden of sunflowers, strawberries and vegetables – yum!

The DOT.dig project has been developed in response to poor attendance at the quarterly clinics for children and young people with type 1 diabetes.

From Nicholas Conway, consultant paediatrician “Levels of blood glucose control in Tayside are poor and these young people are placed at significantly increased risk of the complications above. With this in mind, DOT Tayside have undertaken a number of initiatives in an attempt to increase patient engagement; improve knowledge and understanding; and, ultimately, to improve glucose control.

The DOT team have run a variety of workshops and events aimed at young people and their parents over recent years, where clinics have been delivered in alternative settings, including a local community centre.  The DOT.dig concept was therefore informed by these experiences, whereby a small group of children were invited to attend a workshop held within the community garden, as an alternative to attending a traditional face-to-face clinic appointment.

All of those who attended on the day (including staff) enjoyed the event.  All of the attendees were keen to attend future events and so will be reappointed to attend a DOT.dig workshop in 3 months.  In the interim, additional dates and groups of children will be identified, with the aim to establish a monthly DOT.dig workshop in the near future.”

Co-design workshop and volunteer awards

We had a great session last week where we were exploring possible future directions for the garden – as well as looking at the obstacles we face.

There were no shortage of ideas!  Everyone had the chance to suggest new activities or features, which we grouped into different themes (see below).  We then spent some time with the 3 themes which had the most interest, working in groups to understand how they might be progressed (underlined themes).  If you are interested in getting involved with any of the ideas, or have an idea or comment of your own, please do get in touch.

After the workshop we awarded the first batch of our volunteer certificates – volunteer time amounted to around 2500 hours last year!  The garden wouldn’t exist without our wonderful volunteers – everything from planning to sowing; polytunnel building to bird feeding… This time, effort and creativity enables so many people to enjoy the garden when they visit – so thank you.

IDEAS
Water: wildlife pond, water fountain, wishing well
Communication: website, research into benefits of therapeutic gardening
Themed gardens: Japanese, continents garden, desert garden
Wildlife: bird hide, wildlife pond, more bee habitats (honey and bumble), animal corner
Garden features: pizza oven, time capsule, weather station, barbecue area, bike rack, low maze
Garden development: pear trees, snowdrops, expanding the garden, another polytunnel, own plots, more summer fruit
Skills and activities: more teaching sessions, bread making, preserves, beginners lessons in gardening, kite making, tai chi and yoga, photography club, cups of tea for visitors, cooking skills
Sales / enterprise: more veg for sale, shop for produce and crafts, growing food for hospital, create a cookbook, herbal calendar
People: more patients to visit the garden, day trips for volunteers, corporate volunteering for big jobs

CHALLENGES
Access: From hospital – no proper door or path, lack of signage, car parking, better awareness
Funding: sustainability, secure future
Facilities: lack of toilet, water and electricity
Health and safety: security, hygiene, safety, steps to leaf room, better wheelchair paths
Capacity: more volunteers, staff, more space for new features

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What’s a weed?

weed squares

If you visit the garden, one of the first things you will notice is our ‘wild meadow’ – which is a really polite way of describing the area around our fruit trees.  We sowed this section with a perennial wildflower mix in the autumn, but the weeds have dominated and as a result it now looks a bit messy.  On closer inspection though, there are at least 40 different species of plant which are providing a really valuable habitat for ladybirds – on a wee wander through the area I counted at least 15, including some that were getting quite amorous!  Also, as you may know, weeds are just plants that are growing in the wrong place, and many of the weeds in this area have herbal or edible properties.  In the long term, we would like to develop this area into one that doesn’t look quite so neglected – if you have any thoughts on this, please let us know in the comments.