Newquay Orchard has great food, great coffee, and is a transformational space pioneering nature & social good. Ed Smit of Here Now Films explores and finds out about social prescribing
You walk into the doctors and start to tell them you’ve been feeling a little anxious recently, you mention how work has been getting on top of you and that you’re finding it difficult to sleep. After a quick conversation, your GP leans in and says “It sounds like you have a lot on your plate, but boy do I have a pill for you… it’s early days but all of the studies have come back showing really positive things. I mean really, the pill lowers stress, helps with sleep, increases your general health and wellbeing, it gets you friends and reduces blood pressure, that’s just the beginning… do you fancy it?” You stare at the doctor for a second before nodding in disbelief.
Now, what if I told you that pill was in fact not a pill at all, but a new movement known as social prescription? Instead of a pill, you were prescribed an activity that gets you out and about, in the company of others, doing something that engages your minds, helps you open up and brings you in to contact with nature. Most likely you’d feel a little cheated in comparison to the first offer, who doesn’t want a magic pill, but trust me… this is very real, and it’s taking the world by storm.
Newquay Orchards is one of Cornwall’s premier destinations for social and nature prescription. Described as the Green Lung of Newquay, the little patch of horticultural heaven has been bringing people together in the great outdoors for over five years.
The land itself is beautiful, over 5 acres of reclaimed Dutchy land, it boasts a 100m apple arch, two large kitchen gardens and a further two Polly tunnels. A sapling forest runs across its border and a new Kanteen café and foodery has opened at its heart (the kanteen gets its produce from its very own kitchen garden in the middle of the orchard… what’s not to like).
Walking around you see small groups of people from different walks of life all working shoulder to shoulder on the land. Some may be weeding, others may be harvesting veg, others building a new shed… the key thing here is that everyone is treated the same.
Be in nature
Whether you’re bored in retirement and want something to do, or maybe you’re looking for a therapy to help with anxiety or depression… or maybe you want to get away from the kids for 2 hours a week… from the outside, you all look the same. There’s something great about this, it means nobody has a label, you’re all just there to work, chat, and be in nature. And there’s a lot of work to do, in fact, everything you see has been done by volunteers… go team!!
One of the fantastic new opportunities the Orchard is looking to explore is how to offer this beautiful space to as many people who need it as possible. This is where social and nature prescription come in. The orchard began working in this sphere back in the early days when it first opened but it’s only been in the last three years that it’s started to really skyrocket.
Connect and build
So, what is social and nature prescription? Well, put simply, it’s spending time with people and in nature. It’s a fantastic way to connect with people and to build a support network, you get fit and healthy and avoid taking unnecessary medication in the process. If done right, this could be a fantastic way to change society for the better.
So, what’s the stumbling blocks? Well, in short, we just need more people to know about it. It needs to be acknowledged as a piller of what the NHS could offer, not a novelty. We need to get as many GP’s and local health authorities on board through the sharing of GOOD examples and success stories.
Newquay Orchard has been championing the communication of this work and has been holding events to promote social prescription to local GP’s and authorities in a bid to show them a very real, and growing option to add to their medical arsenal. Recently The Orchards hosted the Cornwall Social Prescribing Network to showcase all that they do. This film was created by Here Now Films for the event:
By the community for the community
The Orchard is open to anyone at any time, so pop in, come for a coffee at the café, grab a bite for lunch and take a look at the great work they’ve been doing. This is a space built by the community for the community, and boy do you leave feeling rested, lighter and optimistic about the great work being done.