COVID-19: Muddy Fork Sessions Suspended. Please Read Below For Further Information...

Muddy Fork - a green approach to mental wellbeing

We help people improve their wellbeing and mental health through volunteer conservation and wildlife gardening in Nottinghamshire.

People are changing their lives step by step, doing useful work in supportive company, surrounded by nature at the Muddy Fork garden.

  • People fearful of leaving the house start to enjoy getting out and about
  • People with no purpose start to get satisfaction from voluntary work
  • Silent people start to chat

Seeing people change keeps us working to help it happen.

Muddy Fork gardening
Muddy Fork gardening

Muddy Fork - Marking World Mental Health Day 2020

On Saturday the 10th October 2020, Muddy Fork marked World Mental Health Day with a locally hosted event in Retford. During September, we held a fundraiser to raise awareness for mental health conditions by inviting the local community and businesses to come together and take part in the #25pushupchallenge. The take-up and response to this was overwhelming and truly heartwarming. We had over 40 businesses take part and all of those involved submitted a short clip of themselves attempting our challenge. This then resulted in a final movie, which brought together all of the fantastic submittions, and was premiered on Saturday. We are now sharing this to highlight how supportive the local community have been, and also to demonstrate that businesses and organisations fundamentally believe in the importance of good Mental Health. Please see our amazing video in the news section below!!

Fantastic Local Business Raffle - Arranged for Muddy Fork...

As part of our event that we held on World Mental Health Day, we received some very generous prizes for a raffle that is being held by our event hosts. The donations from this raffle will go to Muddy Fork, and will be used to keep our valuable charity running and aid our cause.


Raffle tickets are available locally, but if you would like to purchase tickets, please email and we will be happy to facilitate this. The price is £1 each or £5 a strip.


The draw will take place on Monday the 26th October. Winners will then be contacted. Good luck!

Gardening for wellbeing - try it!

Feeling low, stressed, isolated?   Lots of other people are too but we seldom talk about it.  That's why Muddy Fork is here.

Come and volunteer in our garden, with friendly people, and nature all around at the Idle Valley Nature Reserve in Retford.

Have a look at What We Do then Get In Touch to have a look round or give it a try.

Friends and families.  If this might help someone you know, please put them in touch with us.

Planting up a container
Planting up a container

Connecting with the NHS

Gardening for Wellbeing works well together with clinical therapies and as follow up support.

Referrals.  If your client could benefit from exercise outdoors, supportive company and the satisfaction of helping in our garden, please Refer To Us.

Publications and evidence.  To read some of the evidence for nature based therapies have a look at our Publications page.

Garden volunteers
Some of our garden volunteers

Help Us

Tell people about us, lend a hand, make a donation.  Your support keeps us going.  If you like What We Do, find out How You Can Help Us.


Special Thanks...

We would like to say a very special thank you to Retford Athletic Club, Hazelwood Counselling, Mamma Giusi's, Alberto's and The White Lion for their ongoing support and generous donations to our Community Pushup Challenge, which saw over 40 local businesses take part in our event to raise awareness for Mental Health and World Mental Health Day 2020.

Thank You!



Muddy Fork Community Pushup Challenge

Please watch our Muddy Fork Community Pushup Challenge video below. This combines over 40 businesses in the local area and demonstrates the enthusiastic response we received from the Retford community in support of better mental health.


Please share this video with family, friends and colleagues!





Garden lockdown bulletin no.6 September 2020


So here we are, half a year gone and still no signs of a return to group activity. Although support groups like ours are in theory permitted so long as the ‘rule of six’ is observed, without access to the facilities in the visitor centre, which remains closed, our hands are tied.


Our team of intrepid volunteers continues to work hard in the garden, and numbers have even on occasion necessitated implementation of the ‘rule of six’, which is easily manageable in the space available. The garden and the bees continue to be well looked after, and produce is being sold to friends and neighbours of volunteers, including in the form of ‘single person veg box’ offerings, which offer us flexibility and can make effective use of the produce available.


The ‘Three Sisters’, with the odds permanently stacked against them, were commended by the judges of the competition for being good sports, but not surprisingly were unplaced. The sweetcorn was however delicious! Full marks to Pippa for taking the initiative on this one and seeing it through.


Slug-hunting and rabbit-hole fixing remain high on the agenda and we continue to reap the benefits of these efforts. We still have tomatoes (mainly outdoors), cucumbers and courgettes remain productive, kale and chard are keeping going, and the first of the leeks have been lifted. Meanwhile the beautiful pumpkins are a wonder to behold and the squashes are coming along.


As the growing season progressed we have also had time to turn our attention to our tree nursery, with work going on with oak seedlings and black poplars. Not all have survived the hardships of the summer but we still have a good number to work on.


And so, as we move into the next six months, when little may change in the way of restrictions, it remains to be seen where we go next over the autumn and winter.



#25pushupchallenge: Community Support Takes Off!


The fundraiser supporting Muddy Fork and raising awareness about mental health is going incredibly well.


It's been going so well that it's sparked interest and support far beyond Bassetlaw, with many businesses and organisations rising to the push-up challenge. We have been blown away by the donations and kind offers of ongoing support.


Help us help mental health and donate here.


Thank you lovely community!








Boots Charitable Trust
Muddy Fork has also been successful in receiving an award of £10,000 from the Boots Charitable Trust: Thank you Boots!
The funds will be used to support the core running costs of our charity as well as much needed tools and equipment. This will include the essential and overdue rabbit proof fencing, to try and stop them causing chaos in our gardens!
We would also like to thank our grants team for this success. So, many thanks to Boots UK for the support and generosity, especially during these challenging and difficult times.






The National Lottery Community Fund Award


We're delighted to announce that The National Lottery Community Fund awarded us with £10,000 from their Coronavirus Community Support Fund. This has allowed us to continue during the pandemic, covering core costs.
Thanks to our grants team for the hardwork involved which resulted in this success and the National Lottery Community and the Government for making this available.


Donate for Muddy Fork Fundraiser


Mental health issues don't just disappear because there's a pandemic, indeed they can be magnified.
Muddy Fork provides a much needed lifeline to some of our participants and whilst COVID has meant our sessions have had to be suspended, we are still providing support (where possible) to our partcipants.
So we need all the help we can get at the moment. Heather is kindly fundraising for Muddy Fork by doing a massive challenge. For twenty-five days, Heather's doing 25 press-ups, every day!
Please follow the link to read more about why Heather's doing the challenge, and then donate and share!




Muddy Fork Fundraising


We have a new donation platform! We've signed up with TotalGiving, which allows 100% of your donation to come to Muddy Fork. Please also use Gift Aid to increase the value of your donation.


Please check out our new donation page here.




Sessions Still Suspended but..


We have a new donation platform! We've signed up with TotalGiving, which allows 100% of your donation to come to Muddy Fork. Please also use Gift Aid to increase the value of your donation.


Please check out our new donation page here.




Covid-19 Update: Sessions Still Suspended but..


Lockdown, mental wellbeing and the natural world
The impact of the current lockdown on mental wellbeing is well documented. People are social animals and lack of contact with family and friends is taking its toll on many. Those with pre-existing mental health conditions have often been particularly hard-hit and the impact on mental health services is already being felt.
At the same time, lockdown has offered many people time to re-engage with the natural world. Everyday life for most of us has become quieter and slower. Those with gardens have grasped the opportunity to be out of doors. Sales of seeds, grow-bags and garden tools have rocketed and home-schooled children have been watching their beans and sunflowers grow. Even those without gardens have found themselves observing the trees coming into leaf and the birds becoming bolder. Government-sanctioned exercise provides updates on the progression of the spring flowers, or even, in cities, the weeds growing through the cracks in the pavement which are now being labelled by guerrilla gardeners!
The benefits of spending time in green spaces are now widely recognised. Both mental and physical wellbeing are enhanced by contact with the natural world. Personal accounts of such experiences continue to be published, academic work provides clear evidence. Hospital patients are discharged sooner if they can see trees through the window rather than a brick wall. For many people, nature will have been a life-saver during the dark days of lockdown.
Muddy Fork, Retford’s ‘gardening for wellbeing’ project based at the Idle Valley Nature Reserve, is of course currently unable to provide a service. Groups are suspended and the worker furloughed. The garden however is being maintained by volunteers in the expectation that work will resume in due course and will be needed more than ever.
Muddy Fork participants whose mental health has been adversely affected by lockdown conditions will be glad to return, get to work, and meet up with others. New referrals can be expected given the downturn in wellbeing felt by many. The project also hopes that its corporate wellbeing days will be increasingly used by businesses whose employees have appreciated access to nature during the lockdown period. All this however is dependent on the project’s financial survival. Fundraising possibilities are currently limited: many grant-giving bodies are not accepting applications, and the small donations from groups, clubs and individuals which have helped sustain the project have largely dried up.
Muddy Fork trustees are monitoring developments closely and providing updates on the website They will be pleased to hear from supporters, donors and referrers, though referrals cannot actually be progressed at the moment. To get in touch, contact




Muddy Fork Sessions Suspended


Due to Government advice about the COVID-19 virus currently going around the World and now appearing locally, all gardening sessions are formally suspended until further notice as of Monday 23rd March 2020.


We understand that this is an exceptionally trying time: the threat is real, the fear is real, isolation is now real; Muddy Fork will do its best to support existing participants (this may prove impossible, but we will try!).


New referrals will still be accepted, but not progressed for the time being.


Please take care and look after yourselves and your loved ones.


Dom Schad, Muddy Fork Director 23rd March 2020





Do You Shop with Amazon?


Muddy Fork has recently signed up with Amazon Smile, so when you shop with them just select Muddy Fork as your charity of choice and they'll make a small percentage donation on your behalf. 


The great thing is, it doesn't cost you a penny!


See here for further details about Amazon Smile.




Massive Thanks for Donations!

Muddy Fork would like to say a big heartfelt Thank You for all the recent donations.

 First and foremost, for the donations following Andy Burton’s funeral. He is sadly missed and will always be remembered for his humour and hard graft.

 But we are also heartened by other’s generosity.  Donations just from the Christmas and New Year period, those we’re able to acknowledge, are from:


Retford Rotary Club


Retford Athletics Club


St Saviour’s Church


North Notts Wildlife Group


Just Us Ukulele Group


Retford U3A


Sutton Art Group.


Thank you all. Your fantastic contributions continue to astound and humble us, and help keep us going!



In Memoriam

It is with great sadness that we report the passing of Anna Sewell and Andy Burton.


Anna was a staunch supporter of Muddy Fork right from the very start. She became an invaluable member of the team as policy advisor and Safeguarding Officer. Despite growing infirmity, her last visit to the garden was to test-drive our new pathways for wheelchair accessibility. Goodbye Anna, dear friend: you are sorely missed.


Andy joined the project back in our early Ecominds days, and became a regular hard worker, always with a friendly greeting and warm handshake. We were delighted for you when you moved on to volunteering elsewhere, and so saddened to hear of your early passing. Goodbye Andy, and thanks for being you.






Go-V! Wins National Award!

Go-V! have just won a fantastic award as the best vegan takeaway by Viva! See their Facebook page here and watch this space for an update. They win awards; we supply them with fresh fruit and veg!




Green Prescriptions are Excellent value for money, latest report finds.

Check out this Autumn 2019 report from Leeds Beckett University with The Wildlife Trusts here.




Sytner VWG Volunteers Lay Footpath!


The Muddy Fork garden is now graced with a proper, accessible footpath, installed in a day thanks to the magnificent efforts of 20 volunteers from Sytner! Gone are the muddy puddles, the tussocky clumps and the ruts, and we now have a level and smooth surface much more suitable for wheelchair users and people with mobility difficulties. It links the entrance gate with all the major areas of the garden: the poly tunnels, the workshop and Hub and the new raised platform beds. Thanks go to Notts NHS Clinical Commissioning Group for the funding (via BCVS), Ian O’Brien of NWT for driving the mini digger, and most of all Kate Painter, HR manager for VWG Division Sytner Group, for coordinating the volunteers and all the kindnesses!




Muddy Fork has a new donation platform!

 Muddy Fork recently signed up with Localgiving to make donations incredibly easy. It also has the Gift Aid option to boost your donation by £2.50 for every £10 donated. This platform replaces MyDonate, which BT closed earlier this summer. Why not try out Localgiving on our donation page, or right here! Thanks!



Muddy Fork loses a Support Volunteer, but gains two more!


After several years of dedicated support, Mark has finally realised his dream and set up his own small-holding - abroad! Thank you Mark for all your enthusiasm and graft, at least a million good ideas, and humour so much appreciated by the team. Farewell, and all the very best for your new venture!


Meanwhile, Christine and John join us this week: WELCOME!





Runner Faces Ultra Challenge to Raise Funds!


Mum of three Chantal Kinsley will be running 40 miles in the Dukeries Ultra Marathon to raise funds for  Muddy Fork. Yes, you read that right - 40 miles! Not only is this an incredible distance, but Chantal is still a novice runner! She says: I got into running a couple of years ago, the furthest I've ever ran is a half marathon, so the next logical step is an ultra marathon, right!?

As a dedicated supporter of people with mental health challenges, she appreciates just how beneficial Muddy Fork can be: "I know how invaluable this is for people, from learning new skills, social interaction, meeting new people and feeling part of the community."

Chantal is aiming to raise £500 - you can help her by donating here. And why not cheer her on on the day: 11th of May 2019 in Sherwood Forest. See here for further details. Go Chantal, GO!


Bassetlaw CCG awards generous grant

Muddy Fork are delighted to accept a grant of £1,777 to improve garden accessibility features. What a wonderful way to start 2019. Thank you Bassetlaw CCG! Thanks also to BCVS for facilitating.



Here's Josh Harper of Blyth A1 Moto handing Dom a cheque for £1,000 towards a work shed for our new Team Wellbeing service to businesses.


Thanks very much to Moto In The Community for your support.


Team Wellbeing is a service for employers to help with mental wellbeing at work, team building and community engagement all in one great day out.



Co-op presentation

Thanks very much to The Co-op Local Community Fund, the local Co-op staff and all the Co-op members who chose us as your local cause.








Muddy Fork gazebo

Fabulous New Gazebo!

Thanks very much Yorkshire Building Society Charitable Foundation.










Muddy Fork feature in new research from the University of Essex, adding more evidence of benefits to mental wellbeing from volunteering with nature.


Partners, Supporters & Sponsors

We are grateful for the generous support of our partner organisations and proud to be working with such great people!

More about our Partners & Sponsors...