The Kent and Medway NHS Forest site is at Dandelion Time, West Farleigh, a charity providing therapeutic support to troubled children and families in a beautiful farm environment. A large field is being developed into permanent woodland for the benefit of the children and the local community and many NHS staff have sponsored and planted trees here.
The project is being managed locally by Dr Caroline Jessel, Medical Adviser and Sustainability Lead for NHS Kent and Medway. It’s also supported by gardener, writer and television presenter Sarah Raven.
Dr Jessel said: “Our commitment for the NHS Sustainability Day was to plant two trees at 2pm. But we’ve already planted many more, and hope the forest continues to grow to benefit future generations.”
Sarah Raven said: “This is a wonderful project which will encourage people to plant trees that will provide a living legacy for future generations.
“Dandelion Time does some fantastic work, introducing children and families to a rural lifestyle many of them didn’t know existed. They grow vegetables, farm animals, and get great therapeutic value from nature. This woodland will only enhance that work, and encourage NHS staff to get involved with nature. I’m passionate about nature, which is why I’m totally supportive of this project.”
Staff from NHS Kent and Medway planted trees and promoted carbon reducing ideas to celebrate the NHS Sustainability Day of Action. Family, friends and dogs accompanied the staff for the planting day at the new area of woodland at West Farleigh in Maidstone.
Dr Jessel said: “The project is a fantastic opportunity to enhance not only the environment but health too.
“The staff attending our first planting day were keen to get digging and plant their own trees. They brought their families, friends and even dogs, and it was a fantastic opportunity to enjoy the outdoors as well as to do something which will make a difference for future generations.”
In summer 2018, Dandelion Time hosted investment company Bridgepoint for their corporate volunteering days. The team of volunteers enhanced the forest site by building a superb wildlife hide for the children and their families to enjoy this peaceful setting even more.
Bridgepoint also provided nature books and equipment. We are enjoying this new activity with the families. It has enhanced our therapeutic approach and shows the benefits of sustainability and the importance of preservation in a different way, for families, staff and visitors.