Enabling occupational participation and social inclusion for people recovering from mental ill-health through community gardening Academic Article uri icon


  • There is a need for mental health practitioners to understand how inclusive environments that enable participation can be developed. This paper presents the findings from an ethnographic exploration of Mind 'Sprout', a supported community garden situated in inner-city Melbourne. The study explored how this community development project created a socially inclusive environment, and enabled occupational participation among people recovering from mental ill-health.Consistent with the ethos of ethnography, data were collected through participant observation and asking questions of people as they participated at 'Sprout'. Six individual interviews and review of organisational documents were also conducted. Qualitative analysis was used to identify the understandings of how the Sprout community was created and experienced by its members.Three interrelated themes were revealed: Sprout community garden enabled social inclusion and occupational participation by creating community, creating a flexible environment that supports participation and creating a learning environment. The way Sprout operated enabled its members to participate together in occupation and to interact socially within the garden community and beyond as part of the local community.Sprout has developed a philosophy of active participation. The findings point to the opportunities that community development projects offer for creating environments that enable participation and social inclusion. They also suggest that an opportunity exists for occupational therapists to broaden their practise by leading or collaborating in these projects.

publication date

  • 2015