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Gardening is Good Therapy!

| 3/28/2019 10:21:00 AM

Gardening as Therapy 

There are so many benefits to growing a garden other than the nutritional wholesomeness of fresh produce. So many benefits in fact that people study what is known as “Horticultural Therapy.”

What is horticultural therapy? To begin with, according to the American Horticultural Therapy Association, it is explained as follows, “Horticultural therapy techniques are employed to assist participants to learn new skills or regain those that are lost. Horticultural therapy helps improve memory, cognitive abilities, task initiation, language skills, and socialization. In physical rehabilitation, horticultural therapy can help strengthen muscles and improve coordination, balance, and endurance. In vocational horticultural therapy settings, people learn to work independently, problem solve, and follow directions.” And to think it used to be called, “playing in the dirt.”

Gardening as Therapy

Through the years, I have had the opportunity to help bring the therapeutic benefits of gardening to others in several variations. My mission states, “To provide the benefits of gardening to all, regardless of abilities,” and I have been able to assist many groups from day cares, assisted living facilities, group homes, long term care facilities, and many others, not to mention individuals too.

One group I would like to focus on is those with mobility issues. These are limited in their ability to walk, bend, stretch, or stand. They may be confined to a wheel chair, rely on the use of a scooter or may need assistance from a walker or cane. The requirements of a garden for these folks are three-fold; first, the garden must be of sufficient height to allow those with a wheel chair to be able to access the garden. In my experience, a clear height of 27 inches seems to allow most that needed clearance for their wheel chair. The next requirement is the ability for the seated user to be able to reach the entire garden, and I find that a 3-foot square area does just that. Finally, the garden needs to be sturdy enough to support a person that may need to lean against it or rely on it to provide a stable object that will not move or easily tip. Good bracing, construction, and connects will do a lot to provide this stability.

So, I have a good garden design, what are the benefits for people with mobility issues? Some of these may seem obvious and others maybe not quite so much. Here is a list of some of the benefits gardening can provide to those with mobility issues:

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