DIGnity Supported Community Gardening: Cultivating a balance between risk and support

Jessie Bynon1, Dr Pauline Marsh2

1 Grow Occupational Therapy, Carlton TAS; 2 Centre for Rural Health, University of Tasmania, Hobart TAS

DIGnity is a wellbeing project that aims to build the therapeutic capacity of three established community gardens. DIGnity enables health workers, artists and researchers to work alongside community members, garden coordinators and volunteers in the shared public gardening space. We aim to provide an environment for people to feel safe, welcome and able to participate with other members of the community, particularly for people who have lost the confidence or their physical or cognitive capacity to garden. The team includes an Occupational Therapist, fibre artist, mental health counsellor and social researcher who liaise closely with local service providers, GPs, carer organisations and community groups. Having health staff on site can reassure carers that participants will be well looked after – while at the same time the outdoor setting affords people a certain dignity of risk, which benefits physical and mental health as well as self-esteem. This presentation reports on some of our learnings over the first six months of the DIGnity project.


Jessie has over 10 years experience in working as an occupational therapist in a variety of inpatient, outpatient and community settings throughout Tasmania. She currently runs her own private occupational therapy practice in the Hobart region and feels strongly about healthy aging, occupational participation and maintaining meaningful community roles into older age.

Pauline is social researcher with the Centre for Rural Health, University of Tasmania. Her research takes place mainly in community gardens, where she uses videography to explore the therapeutic capacity of these shared garden spaces.

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