In times of economic difficulties, there are often resulting problems in many aspects of people´s lives. The ripple effect of spending cuts, here in Spain, to health, education, sports and arts funding means that many individuals and families are often left trying to manage difficult situations. There are many additional worries particularly in the case of the elderly or of people living with a disability where there is an increasing risk of isolation and social exclusion. There has been, in Spain, a growing enthusiasm for community or leisure gardens. These gardens have become very popular in the past few years.
One example of these community gardens in Spain are the leisure gardens for the elderly promoted by the Agronomics University of Valladolid INEA jointly with the City Council. Since 2005, 430 ecological vegetable gardens have been made available for retired people, making it one of the biggest initiatives of its kind in Spain. This lifelong learning experience is a practical approach to promoting active ageing, positive human relationships, healthy lifestyles and a strong community feeling.
Gardening provides a healthy and productive escape from the stresses of an everyday routine. Getting away from trials of modern life for some can mean relaxing in ways which contrast with the stress of their regular routines, community gardens provide an opportunity for quiet time if so desired. For others, it can mean time to share space with others and work towards a common goal, a time to put to use practical skills to improve their shared lives. Community and leisure gardening encompasses both these traits and allows people the freedom to engage with the gardens as they feel they want to.
HORGANIC got inspired by this experience and tries to provide this unique activity people with mental illness, adapting it to their special needs. This project will harness the growing enthusiasm in Spain for community gardening and introduce the participants in the project to its many benefits, empowering them to become more active and engaged members of their communities.