The benefits of this gardening approach along with the required elements and processes of an aquaponic system will be described and explained. A tour of the Aquaponic Garden on the Extension facilities will highlight the program.
By Cliff Blackerby and Diane Neal, Montgomery County Master Gardeners
Gardeners have recognized for years how “digging in the soil” provides healthful benefits to one’s body and soul. And now scientific research corroborates what the seasoned gardener has known all along. Researchers report that pulling weeds, growing veggies and herbs, and smelling the flowers produce a positive and upbeat mood, reduce stress levels and even increase brain function. In fact, just merely looking at a garden enhances a person’s mental and physical faculties.
Dr. Roger Ulrich, perhaps the most influential healthcare design researcher in the world and a pioneer in the field of therapeutic environments at Texas A&M, discovered that patients recovering from gallbladder surgery with a view of trees recovered significantly better than those who looked at a brick wall. Ulrich’s 1980’s study, innovative and controversial at the time, examined whether positive distraction through nature could actually reduce pain. And thirty years hence, rigorous research studies have confirmed and supported Ulrich’s work, “View through a Window…”
From doubt and skepticism to acceptance and application, horticultural therapy is now a time-proven practice. From mental health and addiction issues to stroke and other physical disabilities, horticultural therapists are easing pain. Increased interest in the therapeutic garden, a plant-dominated environment purposefully designed to facilitate interaction with the healing elements of nature, has resulted.
Can gardening have a positive influence on the average gardener? Andrea F. Taylor, Ph.D., a horticulture instructor and researcher at the University of Illinois, describes how we can rejuvenate ourselves from the over-use of cell phones, emailing, texting, and other social media interferences. “Trading our Blackberry for blackberry bushes is an excellent way to fight stress and attention fatigue.” As we engage in Nature, our minds cease worrying and obsessing, our senses awaken, and feelings of numbness and detachment melt away.
The numerous health and restorative benefits of gardening:
- Stress relief — Stress is linked to countless health issues, including heart disease and stroke.
- Reduce heart and stroke risk — For those over 60, moderate intensity gardening can cut the risk of a heart or stroke event by 30 percent.
- Brain health and Alzheimer’s risk — Researchers indicate that daily gardening represents the single largest risk reduction for dementia, diminishing incidence by 36 percent.
- Hand strength and dexterity — When hand strength and dexterity decline with age, gardening keeps hands active, strong, and vigorous.
Whether motivated by exercise, healing, brain health, immunity, relief of stress, or love of nature and beauty, what are you waiting for? No excuses, but many reasons to garden… What about a garden party?
The glory of gardening: hands in the dirt, head in the sun, heart with nature. To nurture a garden is to feed not just the body, but the soul. —Voltaire