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Eastbourne Homes Gardening Project

Published by Tory Lawrence
Healthy Lifestyle Co-ordinator
Fit as a fiddle
Telephone 07901 635 033

Gardening project in a Riverbourne House, where residents took the lead in developing their own fruit and vegetable patch!

Eastbourne Homes Gardening Project

Our delivery partners are...

Kevin Pearce-Biggs Social Engagement Officer Eastbourne House, Tania Wiseman Senior Occupational Therapy Lecturer, University of Brighton and Age Concern ‘fit as a fiddle'

We have funding and support from...

‘Fit as a fiddle' is a national programme supported by the National Lottery through the Big Lottery Fund and delivered by Age Concern. It aims to improve the health and wellbeing of older people, promoting physical activity, healthy eating and developing ‘active networks' for the over-50s

The project is located in...

Riverbourne House, Eastbourne, East Sussex

The start and finish dates of the project are...

The project was run over 14 weeks from February to May 2009

The people helped are...

Residents of Riverbourne House and surrounding sheltered housing schemes, who would like to become involved in gardening, but do not have the confidence to do so on their own.

What they have said is...

I look forward to Monday morning every week, it is great to be outside with my friends doing something I really enjoy!

We set up the project because...

  • Many people in the scheme would like to get involved in the garden, but don't have the confidence to become involved
  • The gardening club has used designated areas, where members are not intruding on other people's part of the garden
  • There are varying abilities within the group, members can support each other in the different tasks required
  • Through group discussion, all members can have a say on what they want within the garden.

The difference this project makes is...

  • To reduce the barriers to gardening and encourage a wider range of people to become involved
  • Improve the quality of life of the participants through improving strength, cardiovascular fitness, flexibility and energy levels.
  • To develop a social group that can help reduce social isolation and provide support to each other.
  • To provide a wider range of activities, rather than just your traditional activities for older people.
  • To provide sensory stimulation through the texture, smells and sights that gardening can provide

What we did or are doing

Fit as a fiddle in partnership with Tania Wiseman from the University of Brighton and Eastbourne Homes is supporting 12 free sessions for members of Riverbourne House. Tania a qualified occupational therapist is leading the sessions. During the first sessions, a simple group discussion was held as to what the members would like to do with the garden. It was important to have a qualified leader who could direct the discussion and ensure that all members had an equal say within the group. A plan was devised for the next week, plants and equipment were required were purchased before the next session.


Before each session, members began with a cup of tea and a discussion about future plans. Due to the varying nature of abilities within the group, different tasks during the sessions were allocated to members, one of the key aspects of the project is involvement for everyone. For example, some members begun seeding plants in pots in the lounge, others were pruning and some members were digging out small trees.


As the weeks progressed the number of members grew, as other members could see the progress being made from their own flats and discussion about the group grew at lunchtimes and within the communal lounge. The group is not restricted to Monday mornings, members now have the confidence to go into the garden at anytime.

We chose this method because...

Residents had stated they wanted to use the garden and grow produce, however they did not want to take over other people's parts of the garden and did not have the confidence to set up a group without support.

What's happened is...

Project was run over a 12 week period running from February to May. The groups still has a number of weeks to run, during which time Tania will slowly withdraw from the group to encourage members to self manage. It is hoped that fit as a fiddle and partners will be able to mirror this project in other housing schemes in Eastbourne and throughout the region. The University of Brighton will be conducting a research project on the benefits of gardening, to provide evidence based support for it's use as a physical activity.

What we'd do differently...

It was important to have the discussions at the start of the sessions and ensure that everyone had their say on what they wanted. Ensure that all members have a role within the sessions, especially those with lower ability levels as it is important everyone feels valued. Encourage all more male participation in the activity.


All participants complete a monitoring form at the start of the project and an evaluation form at the final session. A ‘Fit as a fiddle' staff member visits the group to evaluate the progress of the group, speaking with the participants and instructors

This project helped to deliver...

The objectives stated in the case study for the project!

The project is now...

Ongoing, with a reduction in support from Tania, however one resident is now beginning to direct the sessions, although a group discussion still occurs at the start of each session.

Additional information or comments?


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Lead Organisation University of Brighton
Geographical Area East Sussex
Outcomes Community cohesion, Improving health, Increasing participation
Beneficiary Age Older People (Over 60)
Beneficiary Groups People at risk of mental health problems, People suffering from chronic disease or condition e.g. CHD, diabetes, osteoporosis, Socially isolated older people
Type of activity Active lifestyles, Fitness & exercise, Green exercise
Primary Theme Physical Activity
Secondary Themes Mental Wellbeing



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