Northern Ireland’s leading organics recycling firm Natural World Products (NWP) has joined with a Co Down charity for a project to improve mental health and wellbeing through gardening.

The Let’s Grow Together initiative, delivered by Mind Your Mate and Yourself (MYMY) based in Newcastle and supported by Newry, Mourne and Down District Council, will benefit 35 households across the district with a focus on those living in isolation.

NWP processes household food and garden waste from local authorities across Northern Ireland converting it into premium, organic, peat-free compost.

In addition to compost from NWP, participants will receive all the necessary equipment to kick-start their gardening journey to better mental health including a newly built raised bed, seeds and tools.

Colm Warren, Chief Executive, NWP, said:

“Supporting community initiatives like the ‘Let’s Grow Together’ project is an integral aspect of NWP.

“As advocates of the positive impact of horticultural therapy, it is particularly pleasing to support a project that makes it easier for people to get out into nature, embrace the outdoors and feel all the benefits of growing and nurturing flowers and vegetables from seed.

“The compost to be used has been made from discarded food and garden waste gathered within the local community, providing the perfect example of the circular economy in action.”

MYMY was established to help boost people’s self-esteem, their self-awareness and develop a better understanding of self-care.

Co-founder Ray Cunningham said:

“The various lockdowns brought about because of COVID-19 have placed a significant strain on many people’s mental health, particularly those who were already feeling isolated or alone.

“Through this project, we want to start a wider conversation surrounding the correlation between gardening and positive mental health and wellbeing, and we can’t wait to hear the difference it makes in the coming weeks and months.”

Those participating within the project will be provided with ongoing support from a local horticulturist who will encourage and offer help and advice on their new growing venture.

Newry, Mourne and Down District Council Chair Councillor Laura Devlin, added:

“During a time of such uncertainty, MYMY’s ‘Let’s Grow Together’ project has offered a great deal of support for those suffering with mental ill health.

“Looking after not just our physical, but our mental health has never been so important. The level of interest from local people has been a real indicator that this project could not have come at a better time

“It is a privilege to play our part and thanks go to NWP for supporting this incredible initiative.”

NWP is headquartered in Dunmurry with additional recycling facilities in Antrim, Keady, Co Armagh, and Drumanakelly, Co Down.

The firm processes 200 thousand tonnes of food and garden waste annually, delivering over half of all recycling across Northern Ireland.