Gardening group for stroke patients

26 June 2015

Stroke patients at Chase Farm Hospital have been growing and  selling  their own vegetables as part of their rehabilitation therapy.

The therapy gardening group has been meeting weekly over the last year, and is funded through donations from staff, patients and relatives, as well as revenue from selling the vegetables.

Lettuces, tomatoes and radishes feature among the vegetables that have been grown.

Horticultural therapy has been proven to build strength and stamina, relax muscles, improve balance and movement, burn calories and provide a feel-good effect which can be vital during long hospital stays and ongoing therapy.

Michel Varela, occupational therapy team lead at Chase Farm Hospital, said: “As well as helping stroke patients recover, the gardening group has also been educational. Learning about different vegetables and their nutritional value has helped some patients adopt a healthier diet, which can reduce the risk of strokes in the future.”

Patients on the ward have also said the group is a great way to spent time away from the ward and interact with other people, as well as providing recovery goals to work towards.

The vegetables can be purchased by members of the public as well as staff and visitors, so anyone who is keen to support a good cause with the added bonus of picking up fresh and locally grown produce should contact Michel directly at


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About the Royal Free London NHS Foundation Trust

The Royal Free began as a pioneering organisation and continues to play a leading role in the care of patients. Our mission is to provide world class expertise and local care. In the 21st century, the Royal Free London continues to lead improvements in healthcare.

The Royal Free London attracts patients from across the country and beyond to its specialist services in liver, kidney and bone marrow transplantation, haemophilia, renal, HIV, infectious diseases, plastic surgery, immunology, vascular surgery, cardiology, amyloidosis and scleroderma and we are a member of the academic health science partnership UCLPartners.

In July 2014 Barnet Hospital and Chase Farm Hospital became part of the Royal Free London.