"Therapeutic Permaculture" - Article by Willi Paul, Planetshifter.com Media
"Therapeutic Permaculture" - Article by Willi Paul, Planetshifter.com Media

Gardening is a wonderfully flexible medium that can transform lives and Thrive sees first-hand how gardening can help everyone, regardless of age or disability. Therapeutic Permaculture is the process of using plants and gardens to improve physical and mental health, as well as communication and thinking skills. It also uses the garden as a safe and secure place to develop someone's ability to mix socially, make friends and learn practical skills that will help them to be more independent.

Using gardening tasks and the garden itself, permaculture therapists build a set of activities for each gardener to improve their particular health needs, and to work on certain goals they want to achieve.

The benefits of a sustained and active interest in gardening include:

• Better physical health through exercise and learning how to use or strengthen muscles to improve mobility

• Improved mental health through a sense of purpose and achievement

• The opportunity to connect with others - reducing feelings of isolation or exclusion

• Acquiring new skills to improve the chances of finding employment

• Just feeling better for being outside, in touch with nature and in the 'great outdoors'

Two Examples of Therapeutic Permaculture -

+ Forest Farm Peace Garden is a community permaculture project in Hainault, Redbridge. They run an Ecotherapy Programme for clients with low-level mental health support needs and learning disabilities. In particular, we find the clients who benefit most are adults who live with anxiety, moderate depression or those in isolation. The activities on site can include: food growing, garden maintenance, cooking and wildlife conservation. This is a permaculture site; the ethos is to respect the earth as well as its people, thus our gardening techniques mirror this.

+ In 2010, artist GK Callahan partnered with the Lighthouse for the Blind and Visually Impaired to embark on an ambitious project - the greening of a public eyesore into a multi-use community space that would be accessible to all, regardless of disability. Please Touch Community Garden has grown from that vision. Located on public land, the garden is an example of an interim-use solution, and also serves as a demonstration space for various urban agriculture strategies.

See also -

"Please Touch Community Garden (SF), Interview & Video Site Tour with Rob Joyce, Director" by Willi Paul

Forest Farm Peace Garden - Ecotherapy Programme Flyer (UK) - PDF attached below