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Project delivers mental health and wellbeing benefits as well as fruit and veg

Image shows a group of people standing in a room

PICTURED: Swansea University students hosted the focus group which included Swansea Bay staff involved in the CSA.


An agricultural project that grows fruit and vegetables is also serving up mental health and wellbeing benefits to its volunteers.

The Cae Felin Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) project is based on land owned by Swansea Bay UHB, with health board staff and the public giving up their time to grow crops and plant trees along with creating a space for nature and wildlife to flourish.

The CSA, a not-for-profit organisation, is independently run but supported by the health board as part of its wider commitment to a more sustainable future.

Image shows a field The seven-acre site, located near Morriston Hospital, relies heavily on volunteers to ensure it is maintained and developed.

Its early successes include distributing fruit and veg to low income and deprived areas, while it has started a veg box share scheme which is set to roll out soon, with the money being reinvested in the project. Its long-term goal is to provide produce for patient meals at Morriston Hospital.

PICTURED: The CSA is located close to Morriston Hospital.

Volunteers have also reaped the reward for helping the project grow.

Clare Ford, 61, has spent the last 30 years working with the health board, and is currently a physiotherapist in plastic surgery.

Clare has been involved in the CSA since its inception in autumn 2022.

She said: “Health and wellbeing is very important to me in my career and life. I find it pretty cool that the health board, wellbeing and healthy food are all linked on one special patch of land.

“I’ve found the camaraderie a massive bonus while the wellbeing aspect of being involved has been an unexpected add on.

“I help grow veg and plant trees , and it’s a very satisfying feeling knowing that I’m helping make a difference.

“I feel proud to work at Morriston Hospital, and helping the CSA grow fruit and vegetables on health board land near the hospital is another aspect that fills me with pride.”

The positive effects of volunteering at the CSA has also benefited an environmental student who lives near the site.

Robyn Betson, 28, has volunteered for the past few months and has put her variety of skills to use.

Image shows a group of people standing in a line Robyn said: “Mental health is massively important for me, and the accessibility of the CSA really helps me in that respect.

“I have anxiety and depression, but being out in the open planting fruit, veg and trees really helps me.

“Being involved in an outdoor activity like this is a massive thing for me as I live in a densely populated area. I find it very relaxing working in an area which has so much nature.

PICTURED: Dr Zoe Fisher, Consultant clinical psychologist with the Brain Injury Service; Swansea University's project supervisors Dr Andrew Kemp and Dr Amy Isham; student Afonso Pereira; project supervisor Luke Jefferies and student Jesse Blackburn.

“I love learning – I am trained as a chef and have done bricklaying, plumbing, carpentry and decorating, so I’ve got a variety of skills to use on the site.”

Clare and Robyn have shared their experiences of volunteering in the CSA during a special focus group which included CSA directors, health board staff and volunteers.

It is part of a research project led by postgraduate students at Swansea University, which focusses on the positive effects of being involved in the CSA.

A second focus group involving brain injury patients that have attended the CSA as part of their neurorehabilitation is also being set up.

Afonso Pereira is among the students working on the project.

He said: “Previous research has indicated that CSAs can enhance wellbeing through activities like gardening, social engagement and nature-related pursuits.

“These findings intersect with studies on nature-based interventions which involve environmental and behavioural changes, such as cultivating agricultural land and adopting sustainable practices.

“Our study investigates the potential of the CSA as a nature-based intervention and the focus group helped us understand the broader impacts of the CSA particularly in terms of individual, collective and planetary wellbeing.

“Our first focus group provided really useful information, and we look forward to the next one with brain injury patients as it’s a crucial part of our research.”

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