According to an article published September 2, 2019 in The Conversation, scientists have found that spending two hours a week in nature is linked with better physical health and well-being. As a result, doctors are prescribing “green prescriptions” to patients to spend more time in nature and to join community gardening projects.
Community Gardens are Like Social Prescriptions
Community gardens are like social prescriptions and help to combat loneliness, anxiety, isolation and depression. Besides the therapeutic benefits of spending time in greenery and nature, they also offer a wonderful opportunity for socialization and making new friends. Community gardens may exist in the midst of built up urban areas, so one does not have to travel far from home in order to participate in a community garden.
Gardening is Beneficial
- Gardening leads to an improvement in well-being.
- Gardening helps people to adopt healthier behaviors.
- Eating fresh produce from a community garden can encourage people to eat more healthy garden fresh vegetables.
- Working together in a community garden with shared goals can make for a real sense of community.
- Gardens conserve biodiversity
- Gardening helps people to become more aware and concerned about protecting the environment.
- Community gardens may help to transform society.
- Community gardens can gather together diverse groups of people including the handicapped. Beds can be raised and paved paths can improve access for people in wheelchairs.
- Gardening can be used for a sensory experience using scents, sounds and visual stimuli.
- Gardening promotes better physical health through exercise and learning how to use or strengthen muscles to improve mobility.
- Gardening leads to a sense of purpose and achievement that leads to improved mental health.
- Gardening can be relaxing and promote feelings of tranquility.
- Gardening can help people to learn new skills. These new skills can help people to get a job.
Social and Therapeutic Horticulture (STH)
Social and therapeutic horticulture (STH) at Thrive, which is a gardening for health charity in the UK is the process of using gardening and plants to promote physical and mental health such as:
- Social and therapeutic horticulture is the method of using plants and gardens to improve health.
- Social and therapeutic horticulture can also help to improve people’s communication and thinking skills.
- Social and therapeutic horticulture can be part of rehabilitation for stroke, heart attack or surgery.
- Social and therapeutic horticulture can help to slow down the deterioration of neurodegenerative illnesses.
- Social and therapeutic horticulture can be beneficial for people in early dementia.
- Social and therapeutic horticulture can help people with low vision and even blindness.
- Social and therapeutic horticulture can help people with learning disabilities.
Many horticultural therapists working at garden projects in the UK have completed specialist training programs in social and therapeutic horticulture at Thrive. Some of them are also professionally trained in health and social care, teaching, occupational therapy or nursing.
Gardening and Recreational Therapy at the Van Duyn Center for Rehabilitation and Nursing in Syracuse, New York
The Van Duyn Center for Rehabilitation and Nursing in Syracuse, New York has a Garden Club which is part of their recreational therapy programs. Here your loved one can have the benefits of being around greenery and also enjoy therapeutic benefits from the Garden Club experience. To learn more about gardening therapy see our blog post from March 7, 2018.
Gardening and green prescriptions offer a whole new exciting field of healing by social and therapeutic horticulture.