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ABBEY PHYSIC COMMUNITY GARDEN - celebrating 30 years of a growing healthy community

By Griselda Mussett

Did you know this year the beautiful, award winning Abbey Physic Community Garden celebrates its 30th anniversary.   This healing space, with its wonderful programme of therapeutic activities and rich network of partners all contribute to it`s overall mission:

to support our community to maintain or improve their physical and mental health and wellbeing.

“I wish there were more projects like yours everywhere in the world, which are easily accessible for all who need that extra kick of mood elevation. You are providing the best, in fact, the healthiest antidepressant/mood elevators with zero side effects.” GP Trainees attending the APCG

How the Physic Garden Started!   

We had moved to Faversham in 1987 with our two little children, and living in Abbey Street. So we often wandered ‘round the block’ past the parish church and the old grammar school.  Of course I wondered what exactly was behind the wall, through that enticing doorway. One day, way back in 1993 or 1994, the door was open and I looked in. It was an amazing tangle of neglect, with brambles, elderberry bushes and tall sycamore trees, completely overgrown and impenetrable.  It was like a lost world, untouched for a very long time. It was quiet, and lovely.

I thought, this would make a wonderful sensory garden - a place for people to wander on foot or in wheelchair, to touch, smell, and of course see a range of plants, as a healing and quiet community place, and I talked about this with my friend Ros Young. Our children were roughly the same age and played together a lot, and Ros and I shared a love of gardening.  

Ros then introduced me to another friend of hers, Pat Thompson, who said the local branch of the National Schizophrenia Fellowship (now called Rethink) were looking for a place for a therapy garden, and this could be perfect.

I don’t know who arranged for the prisons service to be involved, but they came in and removed the sycamore trees and brambles, and cleared the site. The area seemed huge!  It needed a name, and even though I don’t think that particular piece of land had ever been associated with the now-vanished Faversham Abbey, it was near enough to the site of the huge monastery, and it seemed that in its new incarnation, it would really be a Physic Garden, devoted to healing and health.  And that is where the name originated.  

Slowly, work started, under the skilful and kindly eye of its first manager, Chris Ives. We all had to learn how it was going to work. The garden was primarily for the use and benefit of the NSF clients - not just a public garden. As local residents we liked to go and visit but had to respect the needs of the gardeners.  

It is absolutely marvellous to see how it had developed over the years, a precious jewel in the community. It still amazes me how a simple idea can – with help from the right people – can bear such astonishing fruits.

We want to hear from you! Our garden is all about our amazing members and visitors. We want to hear your stories! The material for 30th anniversaries is pearl so we thought this is the perfect excuse to collect some pearls of wisdom - we have a book in the coffee cabin for you to add quotes, interesting facts, top tips etc. 

We would love your help to build a collection of stories from people connected to the garden, whether you're a frequent volunteer, an occasional visitor, or someone who remembers the garden from days gone by. Please click on the link to get started 

Here are some ideas of what to write about:

  • How long have you been coming to the garden…

  • How you first came to the garden…

  • What the garden means to you…

  • When you think of the garden you think….

  • Your favourite spot in the garden and why...

Or, how about helping us to collect 30 Pearls of Wisdom?

We have a book in the Coffee Cabin or just send them in.

If you would like to find out more, please drop by, or check out our website & social media.

                                                           Website - Instagram - Facebook

The garden is an outstanding example of horticulture and gardening, providing opportunities for all, whatever their mental or physical ability.” RHS ‘Britain in Bloom’ Judge

You can help us by donating £30 for 30 Years or Surprise Us with a Donation. This helps us to support the thousands of people that come to the garden, and helps fight isolation and loneliness. Click on the link below.


Thank you so much for your continued support

All welcome. Mon – Friday 10am -3pm. Sat & Sun 11am – 2pm. 

Please check website for updates.

Photos by Liohtan Pain


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