THERAPEUTIC GARDEN: a garden in a health center

There are many types of gardens, but for me therapeutic gardens are perhaps one of the most interesting. The positive aspects of urban gardens are countless… You can see a post about this at the link: Benefits of urban gardens: for you and your city.

Today we will talk about therapeutic gardens, specifically the one I visited last week: an urban garden in a health center! ! This is the orchard of the Carabanchel Alto Health Center, in Madrid. Let’s see it!

Entrance to the orchard of the Carabanchel Alto Health Center

What are therapeutic gardens?

They are orchards whose main purpose is to improve the physical or mental health of people with health problems, whether mild or more serious. There are many types, for example gardens in nursing homes, in social integration centers, gardens in hospitals or in other health centers (like the one we will see today), in schools for the disabled, etc.

Two patients from the health center doing tasks on one of the orchard terraces

In Agrohuerto we have already visited some, so you can get an idea of ​​what the philosophy of these places is if you see posts such as La huerta de Montecarmelo and the ecological garden of Fundación Trébol, in Madrid, or the orchard of Hospital St. Charles, in London.

How did the idea of ​​setting up a garden in this health center come about, who is involved and why?

They came up with the idea at one of the health center meetings, where workers and health personnel proposed several improvements for the recently built center. Why not plant a vegetable garden on the unused terrace at the back of the building? Félix Hernando, one of the caretakers of the center, a fan of gardening and organic farming, volunteered to be trained on the subject and participated for a few months in some of the free courses and workshops at the Retiro Environmental Information and Education Center. In that place, within one of the largest parks in Madrid, is the Citizen Garden, where Félix learned a lot of things that he was going to transmit little by little to the participants and garden workers.

A little over a year and a half ago they wrote a letter proposing the project to the Health Department of the Community of Madrid and in a very short time they accepted it. The next step was to get people who wanted to participate… They put up some posters to see who was up for it and asked for volunteers, especially those with high blood pressure, diabetes or overweight, so that they could study the benefits of working in a garden with these people.

Some of the patients who participate in the garden resting after a work session

A few weeks later, almost 30 patients from this health center had signed up, and even today they continue to enjoy taking care of the maintenance and cultivation of the garden. Although some doctors, nurses and center staff also collaborate, the main objective is the patients. Working in therapeutic gardens like this rejuvenates them, helps them lose weight, reduce anxiety and learn about healthy eating.

The moderate physical exercise provided by gardening is very positive for patients with diabetes, because it helps maintain blood sugar levels and improve insulin sensitivity, among other things. For this reason, this center is going to start a study to scientifically prove all these benefits: starting in November, they will start a clinical trial that will study the improvement in this type of patient, comparing them with another sample of patients who do not work in the garden. (We’ll let you know the results!)

The orchard is so incredible that even the TV has gone to visit it! I leave you here below a report from Spanish Television about his visit:

Surprises in the garden of the Carabanchel Alto Health Center: the Home of Insects

The post is too short to tell you everything I wanted, so I will leave the practical aspects of this urban garden to show you in the next article.

I will tell you, for example, how they have made the terraces, the compost bin, the tutors for the beans, or this little house (still under construction) for some new inhabitants of the orchard who will arrive next spring… What will it be? Do not miss it! You can see it in Breeding beneficial insects in the garden.

Little house under construction for the new inhabitants of the orchard

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