stuck in Evidence supporting the therapeutic
value of gardening is vast, scattered
across a broad range of disciplines, and
mainly anecdotal in nature (Sempik et
al 2003). The last synthesis of
supporting evidence was last carried
out by Sempik et al in 2003.
This meta-ethnography was carried
out in order to gather qualitative
studies. 4 papers, out of 214, met the
inclusion criteria. This research has
synthesised a current, strong body of
evidence supporting the therapeutic
value of gardening as an occupation.
People found meaning within gardening (Sempik et al
2003). It offered a process of recovery, and was seen
as an act of self nurturing (Fieldhouse 2003) . They
could engage and develop on emotional, cognitive,
physical and spiritual levels.
Gardening is a way to gain confidence, self esteem,
and develop positive roles and identity. People learnt
new skills, gained qualifications, and developed
work-type roles in less stressful and aesthetically
pleasing environments that reduced the pressure to
perform (Fieldhouse 2003, Sempik et al 2003).
People expressed pride in achievements, and
creating tangible and edible outcomes. They
described having a sense of belonging (Bowker and
Tearle 2007, Sempik et al 2003.
Being part of a group and working towards goals
together was important. It offered a more relaxed
environment in which to promote skills (Sempik et al
Gardening groups promote sharing of skills, knowledge,
and sharing of memories and enabled development of
psycho-social skills in a worker role environment. The
natural environment offered a democratic, neutral
platform (Fieldhouse 2003)..
People saw the process of harvesting their
produce as a social agent of change, and
working towards positive identity for the
group, the service provider, and their role
within their wider communities (Bowker
and Tearle 2007, Sempik et al 2003).
Tasks can be tailored to the individual's
needs and service setting. There are low
start up and maintenance costs. It is an all
year round occupation, with no
prerequisite skills necessary. ( Jonasson
2008, Sempik et al 2003).
Gardening enhances awareness of and
wider engagement in communities. It
creates greater participation and
promotion of occupational therapy
between third sector agencies,
organisations, community members and
service users. Importantly it enhances
mastery, as everyone knows 'something‘
(Bowker and Tearle 2007, Jonasson 2008,
Sempik et al 2003).
Therapeutic gardening and horticultural projects
already exist within the private and third sector
areas. Across the UK a number of occupational
therapy service providers have set up therapeutic
gardening projects (Sempik et al 2003). These range
across settings, from neurological rehabilitation,
mental health, learning disabilities, to forensics
(Jonasson 2008). Through good practice,
evaluation, audit, and perhaps further degrees –
But most importantly by sharing the findings.
•Bowker R and Tearle P (2007) gardening as a learning environment: a study of children's perceptions and understandings of school gardens as part of an international project. Learning Environment resources, 10, 83-100.
•Fieldhouse J (2003) The impact of an allotment group on mental health client's health, well being and social networking. British Journal of occupational Therapy, 66(7), 286-296.
•Jonasson I, Marklund B and Hildingh C (2007) Working in a training garden: experiences of patients with neurological damage. Australian Occupational Therapy Journal, 54, 266-272.
•Sempik J, Aldridge J and Becker S (2003) Social and therapeutic horticulture: evidence beyond the messages from research. Research Team, Loughborough University. Media Services, Loughborough University: Thrive.
•Sempik J, Aldridge J and Becker S (2005) Health, well being and social inclusion-therapeutic horticulture in the UK. The Policy Press, University of Bristol; in association with Thrive.
•Wilcock A (2006) An occupational perspective of health. 2nd ed NJ: slack Incorporated.
Michelle York, email@example.com
Tania Wiseman, University of Brighton, firstname.lastname@example.org
Lindsay Thomas, The Exchange Project, email@example.com