Mudlarks is a garden with a lot of heart.
The allotments opened in 2008 in response to recognition from a number of organisations that there was a lack of activities for people with learning disabilities in East Herts.
Throughout the school and college years, people with learning disabilities and their families receive support and constant activities through the day. But when the education ends so does the support, and this often leads to social isolation, loss of confidence and self-worth, and huge pressure on families and carers. On top of this, lack of exercise can cause obesity and additional long term health problems.
Mudlarks create a safe and supportive environment, allowing people to be ‘who they are’. If they require a quiet space they can find it, and if they want to interact socially there are lots of opportunities to make friends. They can also jump, fling mud, and behave in ways that may not be ‘accepted’ elsewhere, and this release of tension helps to reduce anxiety in all areas of their lives.
Gardeners each have their own plot of land where they can grow vegetables, supported by our trained staff and volunteers. People’s self-worth and self-esteem increase as they take responsibility for their own area of land, choosing what to plant, and maintaining their plots. This increases their confidence, which is then transferred to other areas of their lives. Working with the land also gives them a great form of exercise, which improves their health and lifts their spirits.
Mudlarks has continued to grow and now supports over 60 gardeners with learning disabilities and mental health issues at the allotments.