A blog from Army&You’s autumn 2022 edition by Laura Grace @_gracefullygrowing_

Over the past three years, I’ve found myself increasingly turning to the outside world as a sanctuary and a retreat. When it comes to nature there is no judgement, no expectation and certainly no time pressure. It’s a well-known fact that spending time outdoors increases our vitamin D production, which can improve our sleep cycle, mood and wellbeing.

Whilst my husband has been deployed, I have spent more time than ever in the garden. When I sow a seed, I feel I’m planting a narrative for the future. It gives me hope. Seeds already have tomorrow built into them and, regardless of their surrounds and external pressure, will still erupt into tremendous beauty and colour.

I know that with the help of regular watering and nature offering a helping hand with soil and sunlight, I can turn them into something of value. Regardless of my mood, I know I must get myself up and out to tend to my flowers and vegetables. Once blooms have finished, seed heads will fall and where they land will be the start of their next journey. Much like our time spent in Service Family Accommodation (SFA), where we end up is out of our control but we absorb our surroundings and bloom.

Putting down roots normally means buying a house and building a family base. However, living in SFA I’ve found that putting physical roots in the ground has given me that sense of security and achievement.

On our current base at RAF Wyton, we have launched a new community allotment and growing space, providing service families an opportunity to socialise and share knowledge with those with similar interests.

I advocate for everyone to give gardening a go. The good thing is you can’t go wrong. It’s forever a learning experience. If something doesn’t work out this time round, you then know what to do differently for the next growing season.

Turning to horticulture has given me a focus and helped me through difficult times. I believe all of us can have green fingers, given the context to discover it.

Laura is our Best Blogger for this edition – she wins a bundle from Tactical Coffee, created by former Royal Artilleryman Darren. He began his journey after being introduced to his first ‘proper’ coffee during a tour of Kosovo in 1999: “I’ve always had a passion for good coffee and after completing my first course in 2015 I decided to study its history and origins. I’ve had many a cup in the guardroom and drank too much compo coffee on operations and exercise to know what bad coffee is!”

Tactical Coffee sources the best sustainable coffee from around the world, designing unique blends with its partner roaster. The company uses the finest, specially selected, washed and polished beans – all its coffees are traceable, Rainforest Alliance and Fairtrade certified.

Look out for Tactical Coffee at events or go to tacticalcoffee.co.uk for more.

Laura’s prize includes four 250g packs from a choice of 14 blends, a Tactical Coffee mug, dripper, 100 x filters, travel mug, stickers and badge.

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