Grow Your Own site at Guild Lodge
Grow Your Own site at Guild Lodge. Photo: Carey Newson / Centre for Sustainable Healthcare. Attribution 4.0 International (CC BY 4.0).

Lancashire Care joined the NHS Forest in 2013, starting up a Grow Your Own project and restoring an orchard at its Guild Lodge site in Preston. Since then the project has continued to go from strength to strength with projects throughout the year to engage staff, patients and the local community in planting and growing fruit and vegetables.

To mark the 2014 NHS Sustainability Day, the trust held a series of roadshows to encourage NHS sustainability champions to sign up and to showcase some of the ideas from staff and patients across the Trust. The roadshows took in the local HQ at Sceptre Point, Ribbleton Hospital and Guild Lodge and resulted in 10 new sustainability champions coming forward as Green Ambassadors in their workplaces. Many other attendees made green pledges, ranging from promising to compost tea bags to switching to an electric vehicle.

The Grow Your Own team also provided kitchen seed kits so that staff could be involved in growing plants indoors, as well as bags of wildflower seeds (courtesy of Friends of the Earth) so that areas across the trust can be brightened up with flowers. They allocated 300 trees to be planted in 2014, sponsored by the Great Outdoor Gym Company, plus a further 65 trees supported by other funds, making a total of 365 NHS Forest trees to be planted across 2014 – one for every day of the year!

Service users at Guild Lodge planted two of these trees for NHS Sustainability Day 2014, and another service user planted troughs of herbs. Two other service users have cleared and planted small patches of land to form vegetable and herb gardens within the hospital grounds as part of the 14:14 campaign, which aims to encourage NHS trusts across England to plant up to 14 square metres of land in 2014 in which fresh produce can be grown and developed.

Across the year, several local schools, including a special educational needs school, also use the polytunnels and the outdoor space at Guild Park to spark the imagination of their pupils. The schoolchildren learn about the growing cycle, as well as broader issues relating to conserving the environment, and health matters such as how fresh food can help them to stay healthy. They take part in activities such as a sunflower growing competition and celebratory events at the Guild Park site. 

Lancashire Care have won an NHS Forest award and an NHS Sustainability Day award for their impressive achievements.

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