This helpful study is the result of an ambitious research made by the organisation Garden Organic and Sustain within the national project “Growing Health”, which reviews the extensive scientific literature that exists, examining the benefits of gardening and community food growing for both physical and mental health.
The aim of this review is to focus on the health benefits provided by community gardens and by the activities of gardening and food growing in order to use it to support decision making and to encourage health professionals to actively use gardening and food growing as part of the health care service provision.
The theory of the ‘biophilia’ was first developed by Wilson (1984), which contends that humans have a ‘tendency to focus on life and lifelike processes’ and that knowledge about the natural World, this in practical terms implies that people feel most comfortable in settings where they can identify with life processes. (Gullone, 2000).
Gardening and horticulture’s activities have been shown to have a positive impact on peoples’ health and wellbeing, on stress and depression and also it showed to be useful for people suffering of dementia and Alzheimer’s diseases.
This article shows the results obtained by KSU (2010), which through this research provides a good overview of horticulture therapy research, explaining also the spheres where it can provide benefits. These include:
•Reducing physical pain: gardening can help reducing chronic pain or discomfort in patients (e.g. Park et al., 2008). Unruh (2004) reports on a study that showed that gardening helped people with serious health problems cope with their situation when comparing groups of people with and without cancer.
•Rehabilitation and recovery: gardening can be part of a rehabilitation program aimed at improving motor skills, speech skills, and/or cognitive skills after debilitating illness or traumas such as strokes. Horticultural therapy as a holistic therapy is also used for patients to recover from life challenging illnesses like cancer survivors (Eunhee, 2003).
•Dementia: horticultural therapy is seen as a way of alleviating the symptoms, providing a higher quality of life and improved cognitive functioning (e.g. Yasukawa, 2009).
•Hospice care: may provide gardens and gardening activities, which aim to provide some combination of the above therapies. Sadler (2007) provides some background information to the use of gardens in hospice settings including a history and principles.
Rice and Lremy (1998) studied the impact of horticultural therapy on psychosocial.