Handicapped & Senior Gardening
Someone asked me the other day, “Do you have any garden bed designs for the handicapped?” I thought about it for a while and I decided that I had to adjust my thinking. I was visualizing a raised bed garden on some sort of platform or table that would be easily accessible. I then realized that once the plants started to grow, especially on a trellis bed, the work would quickly be out of reach.
I looked at a trellis bed and asked myself about what is actually required for this new style of organic garden. Once the bed is built, there’s no digging or tilling. Since the soil is weedless, there’s no weeding. The only work required is planting seeds, which requires a bit of bending down, and watering, which can be done from any height using a water wand. There’s very little tending of the plants short of some pruning of tomatoes and such until harvest time, which is done at chest or eye level. My answer is that because there is so little work involved with weedless raised or trellis beds, almost anyone, even with some handicaps, can be a successful gardener.
Take a look at this recent study…
Healthy Rewards For Seniors With Allotment Gardens
24 Nov 2010
People who have an allotment, especially those aged over 60, tend to be significantly healthier than those who do not. Researchers writing in BioMed Central’s open access journal Environmental Health have shown that the small gardens were associated with increased levels of physical activity at all ages, and improved health and well-being in more elderly people.
Agnes van den Berg, from Wageningen University and Research Centre, the Netherlands, worked with a team of researchers to carry out a study into the health benefits of allotment gardening. She said, “Taken together, our findings provide the first direct empirical evidence for health benefits of allotment gardens. Having an allotment garden may promote an active life-style and contribute to healthy aging”.
Allotments are small plots of land given to community residents to garden fruits and vegetables for personal consumption and recreation. The researchers polled 121 gardeners and 63 of their neighbors who did not have allotments. During the peak gardening times of the Summer months, those with allotments carried out an extra day’s physical activity every week. For the over-60s, perceived general health, stress levels and GP consultations were all significantly improved. Speaking about the results, van den Berg said, “Around the world, allotment gardens are increasingly under pressure from building and infrastructure developments. Considering that allotments may play a vital role in developing active and healthy lifestyles, governments and local authorities might do well to protect and enhance them”.
Allotment gardening and health: a comparative study among allotment gardeners and their neighbors without an allotment
Agnes E Van den Berg, Marijke Van Winsum-Westra, Sjerp De Vries and Sonja ME Van Dillen
Environmental Health (in press)