Updated: Oct 13, 2022
HortiCultural therapy has been around since the beginning of time. The idea of planting seeds has always been associated with agriculture, not horticulture. But the emerging therapy of horticulture and how it can have astounding effects on mental health has become a true staple in my lived experience.
When I think about the origins of planting I, like most others navigate to the history of food and animals. When I do a comparison by definition, agriculture has been defined as the art and science of cultivating the soil, growing crops and raising livestock. Horticulture is an application science applied to plant production, improvement, marketing and the enhancement of human and animal life. In addition, contributing to quality of life, sustainability and rehabilitation of the human life. Let's talk more about horticulture, and how it can impact mental health.
As a lover of gardens, my garden is my masterpiece. It has become my sanctuary for stillness and calm. Have I always thought of it has horticulture, or myself as a horticulturist? Absolutely, not. But I have definitely thought of it as a since of therapy for my mental wellness. The American Horticultural Therapy Association (AHTA) is the only national U.S. organization advocating for the development of the horticultural therapy profession and the practice of horticulture as therapy for human well-being. Since learning about the emergence of horticulture as a treatment strategy for mental health I have become an advocate and creative producer for its awareness. In a sense, watering my own personal garden as well.
“The master of the garden is the one who waters it, trims the branches, plants
the seeds, and pulls the weeds. If you merely stroll through the garden,
you are but an acolyte.” Vera Nazarian.
Horticultural therapy is a combination of gardening and planting to help improve the health of those with mental challenges. This emerging therapy has been cropping up in schools, rehabilitation, community projects and hospitals, where many studies are being produced to support its practice.
In my opinion, the quote above is symbolic to what we feed our physical and mental souls can affect our entire well-being. As the world continues to spin, it is not a respecter of persons about the challenges it dispenses; to anyone on any level. Horticultural therapy may not be the answer, but it is definitely a step in the right direction.
My garden has become my place of refuge, a place to replenish my soul. I intend to water it, to master it. Here's to horticulture for mental health.