Grow your own with Gardening for Disabled Trust


Innovation Foundation: Thisledome

Disability needn’t mean that you cannot enjoy gardening. Angela Goddard from Gardening for Disabled Trust highlights how gardeners have benefited from the work of the Trust to sustain their pleasure in growing plants and vegetables and getting out and about in the garden.

The  Gardening for Disabled Trust was formed 45 years ago and is an entirely voluntary organization, which gives grants to disabled people all over the United Kingdom in order that they may continue to garden. The Trust raises income from fund-raising events, donations and bequests to help fund special tools, raised beds, access, paving, sheds and greenhouses. The funding often helps transform the recipient as well as the garden, replacing a source of frustration with a valuable therapy and sense of satisfaction.

Here are some examples of the help The Trust can provide:

Greenhouse gardening

disabled gardening Julia px

Suffering from ME and other ailments which forced her to give up work, keen gardener Julia from Poole, Dorset found leaving the safety and security of her home environment increasingly difficult. She describes how the Trust’s grant towards a greenhouse has improved her access and pleasure in gardening.

“I found it therapeutic to potter, albeit, slowly, with a few pots and seeds.  After prompting from a friend I approached the Trust for a grant towards a greenhouse.  As you can see from the picture, I have even managed to keep a couple of tomato plants still growing at the beginning of November!  The double doors enable easy access and even when I am unable to do anything but sit in my wheelchair I like to be ‘planted’ in my greenhouse to just watch all sorts of tiny visitors enjoying the garden around me.”

Mixed planting in raised vegetable trugs

Disabled gardening Mandy px

Mandy from Lingfield, Surrey has MS and needs to use a wheelchair if going any distance.  She used a grant from the Trust to help buy garden troughs and raised beds.  Her favourite purchase is the raised vegetable trug/ planter which has allowed her to combine vegetable production with growing garden flowers. Her garden is still a work in progress. It has now been cleared for spring and she hopes to experiment with growing a greater range of vegetables as well as planting an additional trug with flowers with the help of her young family. She is extremely grateful to the Trust for the grant.

The benefits of raised beds

Disabled gardening graham header

Graham from Hutton, Somerset, a very keen gardener, suffered a brain injury and now belongs to a small group who, with the aid of Momentum – a head injury charity, grow vegetables for local groups and promote healthy eating.   He finds it very rewarding knowing that he is helping others.

The one main problem he had was mobility and bending so having raised beds was essential- otherwise he would end up spending too much of the time on his knees. Following a grant from the Trust towards raising some of the beds, he can now work standing or sitting on the edge which has reduced pain and increased the time he can be in the garden. He comments, ‘The project has come on very well as a result of your very kind help.’

Providing the tools to inspire new gardeners

disbled garden thislldome 2 pxThe Innovation Foundation’s `Thisledome` is based in Nuneaton, Warwickshire and its name stands for  “This’le do me” ; the Foundation’s aim is to promote physical and mental wellbeing by providing a community garden which educates, gives  training for work  and opportunities for creative expression together with therapy and rehabilitation. Their 3.5 acre site uses gardening as a tool for people, particularly the disabled, to gain strength, confidence and self-esteem through work and community involvement. 

Funding has been used towards supporting the Innovation Foundation’s work with young people:

“The grants supported our work particularly with young disabled people in sparking their interest in gardening and the great outdoors. Without the support of charities such as the Gardening for the Disabled Trust we would not be able to provide such innovative and needed opportunities for people of all ages.”

Applying for grant-funding:

Applications for grants can be received from either people living at home or societies that care for a number of physically or mentally disabled residents such as in hospitals, centres and schools. 

To qualify for a grant, applicants need to become members of the Trust’s Garden Club at a cost of £8 annually, £40 for 10 years, or £20 for groups for 2 years.  For this they receive a yearly newsletter giving details of grants given, gardening tips, products and recipes.

An application would be expected to provide a note from a doctor, social worker or occupational therapist regarding the disability. Details of plans and an estimate of the cost of materials and tools should also be provided. If labour is required then two competitive estimates would be needed – however seeking voluntary labour is advised to make the most of the grant.   

To help support the work of the Trust or to submit an application, contact them through:

The Secretary, P.O. Box 285, Tunbridge Wells, TN2 9JD


For further information visit the website:

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