Plant Life Balance

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In our busy lives we sometimes go on auto pilot and forget to stop and smell the roses. For those who live in cities and towns we have our daily focus and routine which for most, is inside. We rise in the morning, travel to our place of work, return and begin our routine the next day.

Us sixty year olds have done a work load of living and part of our wellness is to choose time outside. Many of us do, as it’s our special place in life, our time to pause and breathe and be still. Us ladies are content in beauty and calm and quiet and I believe, this is where we can fill our loneliness and add value to our quality of time. We have to do it more!

I ready an article in ‘Plant Life Balance’ as a group of horticulturists met to discuss the value of being out and about with plants and nature and it was fascinating…..read on!

Around the world, we’re seeing a growing movement for ‘social and therapeutic horticulture’. But is there a difference between feeling good in a green space, and actively pursuing gardening and food cultivation as a therapeutic activity? And if so, how do we promote healing and community inclusion through the activity of growing plants and see them as more than just sources of food and clean air?

This was the topic of discussion at a recent session of Farm Chats, hosted by Pocket City Farms, where a panel of horticulturalists, researchers and community workers shared both their experience and expertise on this growing social movement.

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SO, WHAT IS ‘SOCIAL AND THERAPEUTIC HORTICULTURE’ ALL ABOUT? 

Social gardening and therapeutic horticulture is a way of providing regular interaction with nature that both stimulates the mind as much as it relaxes it. These gardens benefit those with special needs, while harnessing the power to connect communities and promoting social cohesion, tackling adversity through the joy of gardening. 

From helping people return to their old lives after an accident or health issue, to staying physically and mentally active in aged care settings, to supporting mental disabilities or the homeless – it’s clear gardening is much more than a way to simply pass the time. It can give people a sense of purpose and pride, helping to improve their lives.

HOW DO YOU QUANTIFY THE ‘HARVEST HIGH’?

The panel agreed that a smile on a face is hard to quantify. Similarly, consistent attendance – the fact that people keep coming back – was an overlooked measure of success for any therapeutic horticulture program. The stories of change in those who spend time in the garden should be the most meaningful metric, but unfortunately, when it comes to attracting more funding to keep these valuable programs going, science beats stories every time.

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HOW DO YOU MEASURE THE SENSE OF PURPOSE – THE FEELING OF BEING A PART OF SOMETHING – WHEN PLANTING A TREE OR PUSHING A WHEELBARROW?

Ultimately, we need to gather as much science as possible to support therapeutic horticulture. The widely used Personal Wellbeing Index and Sense of Community Index have been found to be useful in assessing these hard-to-measure metrics.

However, preventative health programs like therapeutic horticulture are not currently widely recognised within our healthcare system. If we can get better at quantifying the kind of long-term cost savings to be had as a result of this type of treatment, we’ll have a much more convincing argument for funding.

Imagine a day when a doctor may write you a referral for therapeutic gardening?

Shifting this type of therapy from alternative to mainstream is a challenge, but as plant-y people, we’re 100% supportive of a world where people can come together and spend more time in the garden.

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A visit to BUNNINGS is a favourite for me! For any gardening tips the staff there are so helpful and they have some courses on offer to those who live locally. I buy their seedling trays for about $7 to $10 and I am always amazed that they grow so quickly and soon looking like a $20 pot, and I have six!

Happy gardening!

WellbeingChris Vidal