Gardening

Garden as Therapy II: Ecological Garden Therapy

Hello gardeners! Today we talk about the garden as therapy. Have you ever considered that the main function of an orchard is not production?  It may seem strange, since from the beginning when humans domesticated plants, the only purpose has been production for self-consumption and later for sale, that is, it has always been considered as a subsistence or business system.

What is huerterapia?

Since the beginning of the 80s and today, there is a conception of the garden as therapy and self-help . There are really very diverse groups that have already taken part in this initiative which I personally describe as “huerterapia” and more and more are joining this project.

Gardening as a way of doing therapy

And how has the mentality of production changed to the garden as therapy? There really hasn’t been a specific point in history where this is reflected. Rather, it has been the sum of various circumstances, such as the industrial revolution, advances in agricultural machinery, improved living standards. All this and more has produced what we call today the “Welfare State.” What gives rise to a different approach to society. So today one of the biggest concerns is the social state; it seeks to improve it continuously.

Let’s start with people with some kind of physical or mental disability. This group is one of the most vulnerable , since they suffer a great risk of social exclusion, as most of them are highly dependent on other people.

Benefits of gardens for therapy

The benefits obtained from this type of orchard are:

  1. Acquire autonomy at work.
  2. It is a form of labor insertion .
  3. Socialize both with co-workers and with people outside of it.
  4. Do a fun and varied job.
  5. Helps to relax by being in constant contact with nature and outdoors.
  6. Learn many things about orchards, vegetables, vegetables …, which are easy for them to assimilate.
  7. The gratification of seeing something that they have accomplished themselves turns into an achievement .
  8. Staying in shape, the physical activity that gardening requires, is enough to help your fitness and even improve it.
  9. Learn what healthy eating looks like.

Juan XXIII Foundation

On this occasion I have contacted this Foundation; which is a day and occupational center for people with intellectual disabilities . It is located in the Rivas VaciaMadrid area, in Madrid. This garden as a therapy was launched in 2012, currently they have 2 hectares, which are part of the 36 hectares of the Soto del Grillo Agroecological Park. It is focused solely on organic farming, since from the beginning they decided to be respectful both with the environment and with the products they wanted to obtain, in addition to the situation in said agro-ecological park.

They have chosen species , with which it is feasible to respect their biological cycle and that can be cultivated without problems in this area of ​​Spain as well as red cabbage, cabbage, oak leaf lettuce … etc. they also have a garden of aromatic plants such as chamomile , thyme , mint and many more.

One of the curiosities that they present in the orchard is the provision of a Hotel for insects , with this initiative they want to achieve biological pest control and the consequent learning of the good relationship that can exist between these living beings and humans. Another lesson learned in this garden is a healthy lifestyle, through a healthy and balanced diet. In fact they have created a blog, open to the public, with recipes that contain organic vegetables.

All users with disabilities who participate in the garden are tutored by professionals in the sector. They also give talks on organic farming and organic food to schools, as well as to people who are interested in this topic.

Everything they produce, they put up for sale . Its handling center is located in Vicálvaro at the headquarters of the Foundation, from where they prepare and review orders, which are made through the store on its website.

Finally, I can only say that it is very gratifying to see the smile and kindness with which they receive you and talk about the work and tasks that they carry out in their facilities; apart from the motivation they have to continue in this great challenge that it represents for them. Here is the link to the website, in case you want to take a look; And you can even come to visit them who will be delighted to welcome you: The Foundation’s garden

Regards and until next time!

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