The Straw Patch Project - Nature's Prescription to Mental Wellbeing


Funding required£2,000
Delivery timeframe4 months

The Pitch

Problem statement

The Straw Patch Project is based in a rural area, with a lot of economic deprivation on the doorstep. Lots of people, particularly older people, have struggled with mental health and social isolation through Covid-19. A One North Devon survey showed 85% of residents surveyed felt Covid-19 had a negative impact on their mental health. There is a real need for a place where people can be bought together in a safe space and gently supported to form new friendships. This video was made by the people we support:


The Straw Patch Project is a mental health project that uses nature based activities to improve mental, social and physical wellbeing. We deliver small group ecotherapy sessions for: young adults with learning disabilities; older people living alone and struggling with mental health and social isolation; older people in supported accommodation; and teenagers with anxiety. Free transport brings them to the Straw Patch for gentle outdoor activities, time in nature, opportunities to gain new life skills and make new friendships. In 10-week blocks our programmes have physical and social activities such as sowing seeds, planting, weeding, cooking, crafts with natural materials, and animal care.

Why are we best placed to deliver?

We have a lovely allotment space where we are growing a range of vegetables, herbs and flowers; a large open field space, and an outdoor cooking area for our ‘patch to plate’ cooking sessions. We also have a range of farm animals – including alpacas who make great ice-breakers. We work with community partners to identify the people who most need us, and provide free transport from Ilfracombe and Combe Martin to remove barriers to participation. We have a proven track record, and a great reputation in our community. We have recently secured funding for a polytunnel, which now extends our season throughout the winter, enabling us to grow different things for longer, and learn new skills.

Focus Areas

Delivery plan

Budget breakdown

Minibus Hire using Ilfracombe Community Transport £55 x 10 sessions£550
Session Facilitator - delivery and session planning x 10£1,200
Session resources, eg compost, seeds, craft materials, tea and cake£250


20 people

Expected impact

Studies show just 20 minutes a day outside can improve mental health and our gardening club for over 65s does just this. Our first group had been particularly impacted by Covid-19 – elderly, living alone and socially isolated. We offer the opportunity to leave home, get outside, spend time in nature and make new friends. Despite living in a rural area, most of our clients live in Ilfracombe, a Victorian Seaside town with challenging topography and pockets of extreme deprivation. For many older people living in flats, access to the outside world, and interaction with nature are just a dream. Our projects reduce social isolation, allow each person to participate at their own level, sewing seeds, planting, crafting, weeding, spending time with the animals, cooking simple recipes with the ingredients they have grown, drinking tea, eating cake and making friends. “It’s been a bit of a lifesaver really, in so far as I live on my own, and was suffering with terrible depression“

Track record

We have been working closely with One Ilfracombe who have linked us in with a wide range of community groups who would benefit from spending some time with us in the great outdoors. We are currently in the process of working with Ilfracombe’s Men’s Shed who have created some accessible raised beds, an outdoor work area and an Art Room. Our sessions are not open to the general public, but target those in need, so our aim is to offer this service free of charge, including transport to our site which is 140 m above sea level – and 140 m above Ilfracombe. We are unable to do this if we are unable to secure the funding to make this a reality.

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The Straw Patch Project

Social Enterprise