Herbal Sensory Enrichment Garden

To Create a Multi-Sensory Garden for Dogs and Humans to enjoy alike through Stimuli that Encourages & Enhances Physical & Mental Well-Being

Photo of Charlotte Erika Walker
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I confirm that I am fully aware of the eligibility criteria and terms of the Purina BetterwithPets Prize and, based on its description, I am eligible to apply:

  • Yes, I’m eligible

Should you be successful, please confirm your availability to attend:

  • Additional Skype interview(s) during the week of March 16-20th 2020
  • The Purina BetterwithPets Forum in Paris, on 3-4th of June 2020

Initiative's representative name

Charlotte Erika Walker Business Owner/Director of Animal Health & Healing

Initiative's representative date of birth


Initiative's representative gender

  • Woman

Headquarters location: country

  • United Kingdom

Headquarters location: city

Poundbury, Dorchester, Dorset

Where are you making a difference?


Website or social media url(s)

@AnimalHealthUK Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/AnimalHealthUK Twitter: https://twitter.com/AnimalHealthUK Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/animalhealthuk LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/charlotte-erika-walker-75a1b727/ Google Search: https://www.google.com/search?q=animal+health+and+healing

Date Started

January 2020

Focus Areas

  • Fostering emotional intelligence and behavioural competences
  • Promote inclusivity
  • Enhance physical activity and wellness
  • Revolutionizing veterinary care for pets

What is your current yearly budget for the initiative? If you are an idea stage, what early budget you would need to kick-off and run operations in your first year?

  • €10k - €50k

Organisation Type

  • hybrid: a combination of different types of organisations, such as a social enterprise (an organisation that applies commercial strategies to maximize improvements in human and environmental well-being)

1. Founding story: Share a story about the "Aha!" moment that led the founder(s) to get started or the story of how you saw the potential for this project to succeed.

As a Post Graduate of Anthrozoology MA (Human-Animal Interactions), Graduate of Environmental Pollution Science & Graduate of Animal Healing I am aware of how the interplay between the Human-Animal Bond, being Outdoors and Greenspaces & Nature promote Well-Being for both Humans and Pets and that no more so than for Dogs. While studying a Certificate in Natural Food Animal Remedies with the Healing Animals Organisation I discovered the wonderful properties of Culinary Herbs & Scented Flowers which are an excellent way of giving Sensory Enrichment to Animals especially Dogs while Outdoors. This is also true of Human Well-Being & with proven studies stating how good being Outdoors is for Humans, it creates a One Health benefit.

2. The problem: What problem are you helping to solve?

The Herbal Sensory Enrichment Garden Concept is not just a Garden to look at. It is a Garden Promoting & Incorporating Eco-Therapy & One Health. Dog Enrichment through Self Selection/Self Medication & the 5 Senses of Smell, Hearing, Sight, Taste & Touch. Human Stimulation through the Senses. Wildlife Promotion, Sustainability, Enrichment on many levels through Social & Cultural Community Inclusivity through a Community Involvement Initiative.

3. Your solution: How are you planning to solve this problem? Share your specific approach.

The Herbal Sensory Enrichment Garden Concept is to incorporate Herbs, Flowering Plants, Trees & Features that encourage use by Humans (all-inclusive whether with Physical or Learning Impairments/ Mental Health & Emotional Health & Well-Being) and their Dogs (especially Service/ Assistance/ Therapy Dogs). It is to use Nature as Eco-Therapy to encompass the needs of both Human and Non-Human Animal-ie Dog in this case. Creating a 'Feel Good Factor', through Reducing Heart Rate and Blood Pressure, Reducing Cortisol Levels and Increasing Dopamine, Serotonin, Oxytocin Levels & Endorphins. These Physical Changes then affect the Emotional & Mental Well-Being in a Positive Way Intensifying the 'Feel Good Factor'. As a Dogs' sense of smell is up to 300 million olfactory receptors, Nutritional Enhancement through Self Selection for Dogs is a fantastic way for them to explore a Garden. Planting to encourage Wildlife-Butterflies, Bees & Birds with water sources as well as a Wild Flower Strip, Grasses, Fruit Trees & Plants with High Pollination. Enrichment Features for Dogs Sandbox, Bathing Pool, Living Willow Tunnel, Grass Hill Run with Cubby Hole/Den, Log Jumps & Wood Piles.

4. Innovation: How are you innovating or using unique approaches to solve the problem?

The Concept is an Old Method being developed in a New Way to improve the Benefits of being in an Outdoor Space. It is already known that being Outdoors can improve overall Well-Being. This Garden is designed to Stimulate the Senses for both Human and Pet in ways to Improve a Sense of Well-Being through the Neuro-Pathways. By studying Natural Food Animal Remedies & Nature as Eco-Therapy, through a Workshop at Keele University, the understanding of the One Health approach in that both parties can Improve Health & Well-Being through a Sensory Enrichment Form of Therapy, within the Natural Environment of an all incompassing Outdoor Garden Greenspace. Canine Enrichment gives a Dog Mental/Emotional as well as Physical Stimulation.

5. How does your project harness the pet-human bond to help people develop important social competencies (For example: emotional intelligence, collaboration, empathy, resilience, inclusivity) and overcome serious societal issues (for example: violence, abuse, trauma, isolation, abandonment)?

The Garden's Principle Aim is for Inclusivity. The Garden is designed to be fully accessible by Wheelchair in the pathways. The Sensory Herbs are set at an optimum height level for Wheelchair users to be able to enjoy and at a height that the Dogs will also be able to enjoy. Humans are primarily visioned beings but when given the opportunity to explore their other Senses especially Smell it evokes the same Sensory Enrichment as in Dogs. It evokes deep emotional connection to their environment, their surrounding social groups and themselves. The scent of a Rose garden evokes a feeling of Comfort, Love and Peace even though a person may have not received these feelings within their past. Neroli (or Orange Blossom) can evoke a release of Depressive Behaviours and Trauma and Help to Support the person Emotionally through this with other holistic means of therapy. These experiences are also the same in Dogs as in Humans. Eco-Therapy- Walking & Talking Therapies- Side by Side easier than Face to Face Therapies, easier to ‘open up ‘ about Emotional Issues. AAT in Healing-Dogs are also great support through the Healing process with Non-Judgemental, Unconditional Love & Empathy.

6. Impact: how has your project made a difference so far in terms of both business outputs and social impact? How do you plan on measuring progress?

Measure Business Success through Popularity of Garden through Footfall by different demographics whether with Dogs or not. Uptake on Nature as Co-Therapist Mindfulness Healing and Animal Assisted Therapy in Healing through Interactions. Uptake on Training & Teaching Workshops on Gardening, Sensory Enrichment, Herbal Food Animal Remedies, Guilded 1-2-1 Walks. Business Interest-by support through Shared Value Interest. Impact on Society through Community Involvement such as Local Schools, Nursing Homes, Community Groups, Residents, Social Inclusion Groups Employ My Ability & Liveability. Further interest from other parties to expand the Garden to other areas; communities further afield in other Villages/Towns/Cities.

7. Growth strategies: what are your main strategies for scaling your impact?

Medium Term: To Encourage & Incorporate Local Business into the development through promoting Shaved Value of the Space. For example, Local Garden Centre donate Plants and Gardening Equipment as well as Sponsorship of the Space. To encourage Local Residents, Community Groups to Volunteer with Set-Up and Upkeep of the Space. To source Accreditation as a Community Interest Company (CIC). Long Term: Develop Workshops & Learning Programs to promote Gardening for Well-Being which in turn provides a working bond between Humans & Dogs & Nature.

8. Creating shared value: How does your initiative create value for different stakeholders?

The Economic Value by outsourcing the funding from Local Businesses through Donations and Sponsorship which gives Businesses a Shared Voice in the Community by supporting a Local CIC & the opportunity for them to Carbon Offset within the Local Environment to support the Eco-system. Social Value through Social Inclusion through Volunteering to set up and continue Upkeep of the Garden develops Collaboration. This, in turn, addresses Inclusivity, Isolation & Abandonment as it becomes a Support System. This then helps people release Trauma associated with Abuse & Violence experienced. With Community Social Involvement it can give people Shared Empathy, Resilience & Emotional Intelligence Support through shared knowledge and understanding.

9. Financial sustainability plan: can you tell us about your plan to fund your project and how that plan will be sustainable in the short, medium, and long term?

Short Term-Work with The Duchy, Support from Local Businesses, Funding from Nature as Co-Therapist Mindfulness Healing and Animal Assisted Healing through Interactions. Cost of Plants, Compost-Soft Landscaping & Enrichment Features-Hard Landscaping costs (if not Donated), Hours of Work set at £25.00 per Hour from Planning to Final Build. Medium Term-Develop as a CIC with Business Shared Value Support as described such as Carbon Offsetting Schemes, Donations & Sponsorship. Developers example: Barrett Homes develop SANG & Swanage Dog Park (both in Dorset) through Planning Application Process. Long Term-Teaching & Training-Workshops-Paid work which in turn Support Social Community Projects. With CIC status wish to use to fund future growth

10. Team: what is the current composition of your team (types of roles, qualifications, full-time vs. part-time, board members, etc.), and how do you plan to evolve the team’s composition as the project grows?

Team Lead: Charlotte Erika Walker Owner/Director of Animal Health & Healing & Skippy. BSc Graduate in Environmental Pollution Science, MA Post Graduate in Anthrozoology, Graduate & Registered Animal Healer of Healing Animal Organisation; with Certificate in Natural Food Animal Remedies, Nature as Co-Therapist CPD & Animal Assisted Therapy CPD. Community Involvement with Local Schools, Residents/Business Associations, People with Disabilities through Local Businesses, NGO's & Social Enterprise.

11. How do you plan to influence your field of work if you are a winner of this edition of the Purina BetterwithPets Prize?

I wish to use the Template of the Herbal Sensory Enrichment Garden to model many such Gardens in many Villages, Towns & Cities. Gardens are known as the 'Lungs of a City' and we are all aware of how the Outdoors and Nature promote Well-Being through Physical & Mental Positivity. But not everyone has the ability to go 'Forest Bathing'. Thus a Community Herbal Sensory Enrichment Garden gives this Benefit on people's doorsteps. To start this initiative it would be through The Duchy in Poundbury; which could benefit from & be enhanced by having a Herbal Sensory Enrichment Garden such as proposed, while creating a BetterwithPets Holistic Approach to One Health.

12. How did you hear about this challenge?

  • Social media
  • Recommended by others
  • Article in the news

Attachments (1)

Bath Cats & Dogs Home Sensory Enrichment Garden.pdf

Bath Cats & Dogs Home Sensory Enrichment Garden Lead: Steve Hill, Advisor: Caroline Ingraham


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