Healthy Working Habits: Creating Mindful Green Spaces

Author: Thomas Ginn, Monique Snijder & Tanja de Bie

The Centre for Innovation, Leiden University goes Green. The Mindful Garden, now in its third season, is a community garden initiative by the Centre for Innovation. The garden is in the backyard of the CFI offices at Schouwburgstraat, The Hague. The Centre set up the garden to encourage the Healthy Working Habits for our own staff and students, as well as contributing to the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) by showcasing what everybody can do in their own environment.

The Mindful Garden is managed by  a cooperative of green-minded CFI team members.  The philosophy is strictly biological and inclusive. Rules are simple: be nice and respect nature, be mindful and allow everybody to enjoy their time there. Students, staff and visitors are explicitly invited to come and join in.

How we maintain this community project:

  • Assigning a committee to be responsible for division of tasks and monitoring
  • Dividing and scheduling of watering tasks
  • Conducting a yearly evaluation and follow-up
  • Collecting seeds and planting wild bulbs that multiply
  • Promotion through word of mouth as well as a flyer about the garden that includes flower seeds!

The aims of the garden are:

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    Increase wellness & reduce stress. For example, looking after the plants or meditating are great ways to stop hurrying and focus on the here-and-now. This is especially important for people studying or working in a pressurized environment. Scientific research shows that mindfulness practice has positive effects on chronic stress, reaction time and the immune system. ​The university-grown fruits, herbs and veggies that we harvest from the garden promote better food choices, while the peaceful nature of the garden promotes relaxation. SDG 3

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    Reduce urban heat. Because plants, trees and water create shade they also absorb heat. This is especially important in summer, since heat in urban environments can be much higher than in the countryside. SDG 11 and SDG 13

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    Increase biodiversity (and save the bees!). Because we selected a wide variety of local plants with a focus on pollinators, we promote a lively ecosystem of insects and wildlife. Our garden's success demonstrates the incredible resilience of urban nature. SDG 15

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    Urban water management. By reducing the number of tiles in the backyard and adding a water feature, we make sure that more water can be safely deposited in the ground. Additionally the water acts as sustenance to the birds and the bees. SDG 11 and SDG 13

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    Remind students & staff about their own agency. We hope to empower people to address the challenges posed by the Sustainable Development Goals. This garden shows how easy it is to improve your direct environment, both at work and at home. SDG 3

Want to help us? Join our community!

We look forward to any donations of plants or hardware, as well as volunteer time to help water the plants during the summer months. Or perhaps you want to create a local community garden of your own and want to know how to start. If you’d like to join us or have a question, please get in touch. You can find us at at A308 Schouwburgstraat 2, the Hague, or email

Get in touch with the authors

Thomas Ginn
Educational Storyteller & Virtual Reality Director

Monique Snijder
Learning Experience Designer

Tanja de Bie
Online Learning Expert