Journal of Therapeutic Horticulture 31.1 - 2021


The Gardening Spirit: Evidence that Frequency of Gardening Precisely Predicts Ecospirituality
Mark L. Harvey, Kailyn Bowman, and Amanda Karr

This study sought to determine if ecospirituality, a reverential respect for earth, is associated with gardening. Previous research has established that gardening is associated with spirituality in ways that promote healing, hope, and coping with grief. This study sought to extend those findings, positing that an ecologically-based, sacred respect for the environment is plausibly both an antecedent to and a consequence of gardening. Therefore, we predicted that gardeners, because of their high degree of physical and emotional caretaking contact with the Earth, would show a greater ecologically-based spiritual connection with nature than non-gardeners. A sample of 138 participants completed a questionnaire that measured gardening attitudes, behaviors, and ecospirituality (Suganthi, 2019). We found a strong positive association between gardening and ecospirituality: the more frequently one gardens, the greater one’s ecospirituality. Moreover, the increase in ecospirituality was remarkably graduated: those who never garden scored lowest in ecospirituality, with incremental and significant increases in ecospirituality as gardening frequency increased. Content analysis of open-ended responses on the survey suggest that the association between gardening and ecospirituality is mostly implicit. While previous research on gardening and spirituality relied primarily upon the interpretation of respondents’ narrative answers to openended questions, this research established a strong, predictive relationship between well-defined gardening behavior and welldefined ecologically-based spirituality. The findings suggest that gardening may promote a reverential respect for Earth and environmental concern.

Exploring a Migrant's Sense of Belonging Through Participation in an Urban Agricultural Vocational Training Program in Sweden
Anna María Pálsdóttir, Liz O´Brien, Dorthe Varning Poulsen and Ann Dolling

This study focused on migrants taking part in a urban agricultural vocational program called Växtplats Rosengård at Botildenborg in Malmö, Sweden. A semi-structured interview study was  conducted with 14 trainees to explore whether a sense of belonging could be experienced during the 10-week vocational training program. Two main themes of “environmental and organizational context” and “cultivation and nurture” emerged, which illustrated that a sense of belonging and place attachment could be experienced. The sense of belonging was created by an inclusive and supportive environment that allowed for creativity through the planting, growing, and nurturing of plants. The program provided a connection to migrants’ home countries by allowing planting of recognized vegetation; and by enabling and supporting the practicing of the language of the new country in which the migrants had arrived. Based on the findings, five key mechanisms related to fostering a sense of belonging in newly arrived migrants are discussed and proposed as potentially transferrable to similar contexts.

Cultivating Care: Trauma, Homeless Veterans, and Nature-Based Therapy
Becca Hart and Steve Zanzskas

Homeless veterans experience compounding trauma as a result of their experiences both overseas and on the streets. The complexities reveal a tangled web of mental illness, substance abuse, and destructive behaviors that make routine housing-first solutions seem ineffectual, archaic, and misguided. Nature-based therapies, however, can supplement more conventional rehabilitation modalities to cultivate meaningful growth for this hard
to reach population. Nature has been used for centuries in the healing process, but in recent decades, we have seen mounting evidence to support nature-based therapies as effective interventions for treating maladaptive mechanisms of trauma; namely issues concerning trust, emotional regulation, and socialization. Nature-based therapy is identified as a multidimensional yet practical approach for building out effective care programming aimed to cultivate the psychosocial health of homeless veterans.

Conceptual Biophilic Design In Landscape Architecture — A Design Concept For a Health Garden in Iceland
Anna María Pálsdóttir, Petra Thorpert, Vilmundur Gudnason, Hugo Settegren, Arnór Víkingsson, and Kristín Siggeirsdóttir

Through the use of an evidence-based health design landscape architecture model (EBHDL), a design concept has been developed to create a health garden located in Iceland. The conceptual structure is based on specific aspects of biophilic design, on current knowledge of nature’s positive effects on human health, on empirical studies, and on post-occupational evaluation from the Alnarp Rehabilitation Garden in Sweden and the Nacadia Therapy Garden in Denmark. The concept is being implemented at Hrafnhólar farm in Iceland and will become a valuable part of the vocational rehabilitation program managed by the Janus Rehabilitation Center. The health garden at Hrafnhólar farm will be the first of its kind in Iceland and will become 
an important behavioral setting for research on new vocational rehabilitation approaches worldwide.