Core Arts

Above : An artist impression of the finished project

Transforming land for wellbeing

An ambitious project is underway to transform over 1,276m2 of underused land behind St Barnabas church in Hackney, London, into a co-designed and user-led community garden. The development is being driven by not-for-profit social business Core Arts, which promotes positive mental health and wellbeing through creative learning. Since 2009 Core Landscapes, a Core Arts initiative, has turned underused land in deprived urban areas into hubs for community engagement through horticulture, design, workshops, training and events.

Improving health and wellbeing, and investing in our communities and environment matters to us – and we are proud to support Core Arts with a grant of £64,200 to help create St Barnabas Community Garden. The collaborative garden space will enhance community cohesion, meet the local need for safe green spaces, while supporting adults with mental health problems.

  • More than 1,500 adults with severe mental health problems benefit from Core Arts courses each year.
  • At least 10,000 people will engage with the St Barnabas Community Garden annually, including volunteers, community green groups and the general public.
  • Core Landscapes has worked with adults with mental health problems in greater London for 10 years.

Good for people and planet

Experienced community gardeners have been working alongside adults with mental health problems, who’ve been referred to Core Landscapes by the NHS. The initiative challenges stigma around mental ill-health by empowering NHS referred adults to lead on the work in collaboration with the community. It also enables people most adversely impacted by COVID-19 to lead more resilient, creative, and socially connected lives by engaging with the natural world.

The initiative demonstrates sustainable greening techniques, including moving Core Art’s Gold medal winning garden from RHS Chelsea Garden Show 2022 to the St Barnabas Community Garden. An added benefit of the garden is an increase biodiversity in the area, including pollinator-friendly planting. From March 2023, St Barnabas Community Garden will run sustainable horticulture classes from its own teaching area.




The relocation of the plants and hard landscaping from the Core Arts RHS Chelsea garden 2022 will kick start Core Art’s ambitious project to transform the grounds of the St Barnabas church, into a beautiful community wellbeing garden. This will enable greater numbers of people to access green education, learn organic gardening skills, and connect with others and nature in a safe and relaxing environment.”

Nemone Mercer, Core Arts Landscape manager

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