The environment is central to our wellbeing in so many ways; from the health benefits of connecting with nature, to the natural resources that sustain our lives. That is why here at the Network of Wellbeing we decided to mark World Environment Day 2016 in a number of ways, with:

  • A series of blogs and videos, featuring well-known gardener Monty Don, Embercombe founder Mac Macartney and mindfulness teacher Karen Liebenguth
  • An interactive competition, inviting you to share your tips on the themes of ‘Growing, Sharing and Caring’ – winners announced below!
  • A Forest Festival in Totnes, with forest gardening, a shared picnic and lots of other fun interactive activities!

This post shares a little more about our World Environment Day celebrations, and also offers us a chance to say huge thanks to those of you who got involved!

Blog and video series

Firstly, a big thank you to those who featured in our special World Environment Day blog and video series:

  • Well-known gardener Monty Don featured in a video about the nurturing power of the soil, and the importance of connecting to it. He speaks about how important it is to “encourage individuals… to sow a seed, look after it, nurture it, share it,” and he goes on to say this is “probably the most powerful political action” we can do.
  • Embercombe founder Mac Macartney is an author and speaker on values-based leadership. We interviewed Mac for our World Environment Day series, and he spoke on how nature is an inseparable part of who we are.
  • Karen Liebenguth, of Green Space Life Coaching, contributed a brilliant guest blog post about how connecting with green space is good for us, and can also actually be good for green spaces.

If you’re inspired by these posts and videos, please share with others!

#GrowShareCare competition winners

We chose to run a competition inviting you to share your tips on the themes of growing, sharing, and caring, as these are all simple activities that are good for our wellbeing, and encourage us to care for ourselves, each other and the natural world. We received some lovely entries in to the competition, and we’d like to thank everyone who took the time to get involved. We selected the following four as the winning entries:

Anna Watson, Senior Campaigner at Friends of the Earth submitted the following tips:

  • Growing – scatter wildflower seeds on bits of bare/waste ground near you. Watching them grow will be so rewarding.
  • Sharing – share your smile with everyone. You can’t help but feel better once someone has smiled at you – even if you don’t know why.
  • Caring – don’t just give money to anyone you see homeless on the street. Give your time and get to know them – loneliness can be crippling.

Karen Liebenguth suggested the following tips:

  • Growing – I currently grow my own sunflowers and other bee friendly flowers in my garden because when I do I feel I create a beautiful and joyful space for myself, others and the bees!
  • Sharing – In my articles on happiness and wellbeing I share tips on how we can become healthier and happier human beings because when we are, we are better able to care for ourselves, others and the environment.
  • Caring – I care about people and the planet; this gives me a sense of purpose and meaning because I feel that my energy and daily effort flow into something worthwhile.

And Mari Pennanen of Saimaai Life shared a few tips, including one on how we can best care for ourselves and the world around us, suggesting to “do one thing at a time, in your own rhythm and take breaks between.” And she continues, “spring is often full of different kinds of projects both at work and home; lots of things to do at work before the summer holidays. At home, the garden and many other things needs to be taken care of. There’s a big chance that you end up making yourself very tired with all that. How to prevent that? Some thoughts I give in my latest postwhere I share a story from my own life. Do not exhaust yourself but learn to do one thing at a time, in your own rhythm and take breaks between!”

Finally, Cat Turner shared her experience of the wonderful relationships that can arise out of community garden initatives, such as the new Coronation Community Garden in the Isle of Man – established between Ecovannin and Braddan Parish Commissioners. Cat explained, “we’ve been amazed not just at the enthusiasm of the residents and volunteers, but at the generosity of seemingly unconnected people in donating everything from compost to birdhouses, hay bales to picnic tables. But the biggest and best thing has been that a number of other groups have been watching, and coming to our meetings to learn from our experience, and now about five others are being established around the Island.” This experience shows that through sharing advice and experiences it’s possible to inspire others.

Overall, these tips – and all of the entries we received – were a great reminder on the importance of finding ways to grow, share and care in our daily lives.

Forest Festival Fun in Totnes

We celebrated World Environment Day on the day itself – June 5th – through co-hosting a Forest Festival at Follaton Arboretum in Totnes, together with Incredible Edible Totnes, and with support from Growing Orchard Communities project.

The day began with glorious sunshine and gardening in the forest garden, followed by a delicious shared picnic. During the picnic, our imaginations were captured by a wonderful story teller who joined us for the day, Mark Bedford. After this a group was led round the beautiful woodland by Nicky Baines, who volunteers at the forest garden, and who introduced people to the plants and edibles grown in the forest.

During the day small groups split off to do different activities, including tree labeling in the community orchard, group singing, wood carving, natural dying and drama games, while others shared music in an open ‘no mic’ session, enjoyed a relaxing chair massage, and chatted over a cuppa while lounging in the sun. Participants commented that the day was really enjoyable and relaxed, and offered a great chance to connect with people.

Thanks so much to all those involved for generously giving their time, including: all those holding workshop spaces, Incredible Edible for helping organise and host, to Growing Orchard Communities project for their support and funding, to Roly and the grub truck for providing hot drinks, and of course for everyone who came and enjoyed the day with us!

If you wish to get involved in the Community Orchard, Forest Garden or other Incredible Edible Totnes projects please contact Wendy Stayte via email or telephone – 01803 868305.

Thanks again to all involved in our blog series, #GrowShareCare competition, and the Forest Festival!