A recent report from the New Economics Foundation (nef) is promoting the idea of a shorter working week and the widespread take up of gardening. [issuu width=540 height=450 embedBackground=%23000000 backgroundColor=%23222222 documentId=121105084756-8b6c9a1a2af8437f9d296c9ecab367cb name=nef-_national_gardening_leave username=countrymen tag=gardening unit=px v=2]
Their main argument is that people will be happier and healthier if they spend less time in the office and more time in the garden. This idea of therapeutic horticulture has been around for some time and the authors note some of the ways it’s been used:
The range of specific health benefits attributable to gardening is extraordinarily diverse, ranging from lower mortality and likelihood of the onset of dementia, to less brittle bones from osteoporosis, fewer problems with blood pressure, heart disease, and a range of conditions relating to depression and anxiety. Some of these latter benefits and the specific advantages for child development are thought to relate to how gardening calms and improves concentration. This is known as ‘attention restoration theory,’ or rather nicely, ART.
But where therapeutic horticulture’s been used as a ‘treatment’ for specific groups of people in the past, nef now suggests that gardening could be a model that can prevent many of the problems that we have in society: economic, social and environmental. The report opens with a note on resilience, which we couldn’t put better ourselves:
Resilience, emotional and environmental, is a well-planted garden, both literally and metaphorically. The language of planting, growing and harvesting permeates our culture like a deep root system, recalling a time when our ancestors were literally dependent on their (personal) ability to produce food to survive. There was, and still is, no culture without agri-culture.
So, what do you think of taking a day out of your working week to do some digging?