Horticulture for health is a term referring to multiple capacities and applications where horticulture can be used to address, manage and improve human health. These include a full range of activities, models and programs, identified by the categories in the FLHHN’s Resource Hub. This overview section includes: Scope & definition of Horticulture for Health Health benefits of gardening Pandemic gardening & impacts across horticulture for health domains (new section to be added 2023)
SCOPE & DEFINITION OF HORTICULTURE FOR HEALTH “Horticulture for health, [is] an umbrella term referring to wide-ranging activities, programs and services, where horticulture used in various capacities and applications can positively impact health.... the horticulture for health framework captures the exponential growth and scope of activities across disciplines and sectors, where practices in health services, education, food production, business, landscape architecture and green industry promote human health….The framework categorizes diverse initiatives like mobile food trucks, digitized horticulture technology, ecotherapy, parks Rx, forest breathing, and therapeutic horticulture, as parts of a greater whole, where “the multi-sectoral nature and horticulture-specific commonality of [these] each focus on improving human health and where horticulture plays a significant role” (Fleming, 2021; Fleming et al., 2021).
Books, journals & epublicationson horticulture for health
Still in compilation.
Research & articles on horticulture for health
Recently published selected research & articles:
Fleming, L., Zhang, W. & Nelson, K. (2022). Horticulture for health in U.S. hospitals: Horticultural therapy, gardens in hospitals, nutrition-led programs & affiliated community gardens. Journal of Therapeutic Horticulture 32(1).
Fleming, L. (2021). Horticulture for health framework. ISHS Acta Horticulturae 1330: XV International People Plant Symposium and II International Symposium on Horticultural Therapies: The Role of Horticulture in Human Well-being and Social Development.
Fleming, L., Davis, A., Bos, L., Carter, J. & House, B. (2020). Nova Scotia horticulture for health activity. Journal of Therapeutic Horticulture 30(1); 57-65. Relf, P.D. & Lohr, V.I. (2003). Human issues in horticulture. Hortscience 38 (5), 984-993 https://doi.org/10.21273/HORTSCI.38.5.984.
Examples of horticulture for health
The wide ranging models, programs & services are best articulated and identified on the Florida Horticulture for Health Network’s website & its Resource Hub, of which this is a part. Refer to other categories within the Resource Hub for examples of the scope of this paradigm.
Written & compiled by Lesley Fleming, Oct 2021; revised by Lesley Fleming and Bree Stark Nov 2022
HEALTH BENEFITS OF GARDENING Gardening is an integral component of horticulture for health. This very broad subject spans many related topics. These resources focus on the health benefits of gardening with more recent research examining psychological and physiological benefits using fMRI analysis (Chang & Lee, 2021; Hassan et al., 2019), gardening as a healthy lifestyle (Eng et al., 2019), motivations and attitudes about gardening, and gardening impacting a variety of populations—children, elderly, school gardens, community gardeners, and home gardeners. Other categories within the horticulture for health framework may also present information on specific aspects of health and gardening (i.e. category Food, Nutrition & Food Action).
Research & articles on gardening: health benefits
Recently published selected research & articles:
Ahonen, K., Lee, C. & Daker, E. (2012). Reaping the harvest: Nursing student service involvement with a campus gardening project. Nurse Education, 37(2), 86-88.
Bahamonde, A. (2019). Mental health through the art of gardening. Journal of Therapeutic Horticulture 29(2), 27-44.
Blum, W.E.H., Zechmeister-Boltenstern, S. & Keiblinger, K.M. (2019). Does soil contribute to the human gut microbiome? Microorganisms 7(9), 287. doi: 10.3390/microorganisms7090287
Botts, B. (2020). Gardening and wellness. The American Gardener 99(6), 30-33.
Calvet-Mir, L., Riu-Bosoms, C., Gonzalez-Puente, M., Ruiz-Mallen, I., Reyes-García, V. & Molina, JL. (2016). The transmission of home garden knowledge: Safeguarding biocultural diversity and enhancing social-ecological resilience. Soc Nat Resourc., 29, 556. doi: 10.1080/08941920.2015.1094711
Chalmin-Pui, L.S., Griffiths, A., Roe, J., Heaton, T. & Cameron, R. (2021). Why garden? Attitudes and the perceived health benefits of home gardening. Cities, 112, 103118. 10.1016/j.cities.2021.103118
Chang, Y.S. & Tu, P.C. (2021). Healthy horticulture for senior citizens. ISHS Acta Horticulturae 1313: International Symposium on Horticultural Therapies: Past, Present and Future.
Chang, C.Y. & Lee, A.Y. (2021). Using functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) technology to analysis the benefit of horticultural activities. ISHS Acta Horticulturae 1330: XV International People Plant Symposium and II International Symposium on Horticultural Therapies: The Role of Horticulture in Human Well-being and Social Development. Chu, H.Y., Chan, H.S. & Chen, M.F. (2021). Effects of horticultural activities on attitudes toward aging, sense of hope and hand-eye coordination in older adults in residential care facilities. International JournalEnviron Res Public Health, 18(12), 6555. doi: 10.3390/ijerph18126555
De Rui, M., Toffanello, E.D., Veronese, N., Zambon, S., Bolzetta, F., Sartori, L., Musacchio, E., Corti, M.C., Baggio, G., Crepald,i G., Perissinotto, E., Manzato, E. & Sergi, G. (2014). Vitamin D deficiency and leisure time activities in the elderly: Are all pastimes the same? PLoS One 9(4):e94805. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0094805
Eng, S., Khun, T., Jower, S. & Murro, MJ. (2019). Healthy lifestyle through home gardening: The art of sharing. Am J Lifestyle Med., 13(4), 347-350. doi: 10.1177/1559827619842068
Fleming, L. (2021). Health benefits of food gardening. Digging In 7(2), 1-5.
Fleming, L. (2022). Health benefits of food gardening – more expansive than improved nutrition. Cultivate, 2(3), 1-6.
Hall, C.R. & Knuth, M.J. (2019). An update of the literature supporting the well-being benefits of plants: Part 2 physiological health benefits. Journal of Environmental Horticulture. 37(2):63-73. Hall, C.R. & Knuth, M.J. (2019). An update of the literature supporting the well-being benefits of plants: A review of the emotional and mental health benefits of plants. Journal of Environmental Horticulture. 37(1):30-38.
Howarth, M., Brettle, A., Hardman, M. & Maden, M. (2020). What is the evidence for the impact of gardens and gardening on health and well-being: A scoping review and evidence-based logic model to guide healthcare strategy decision making on the use of gardening approaches as a social prescription. BMJ Open 10(7), e036923. doi: 10.1136/bmjopen-2020-036923
Kim, S.O., Jeong, J.E., Oh, Y.A., Kim, H.R. & Park, S.A. (2021). Comparing concentration levels and emotional states of children using electroencephalography during horticultural and nonhorticultural activities. HortScience, 56(3):324-329.
Lai, P.H., Lee, A.Y. & Chang, C.Y. (2021). Using functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) technology to analyze the benefit of horticultural activities. ISHS Acta Horticulturae 1330: XV International People Plant Symposium and II International Symposium on Horticultural Therapies: The Role of Horticulture in Human Well- being and Social Development.
Lampert, T., Costa, J., Santos, O., Sousa, J., Ribeiro, T. & Freire, E. (2021). Evidence on the contribution of community gardens to promote physical and mental health and well-being of non- institutionalized individuals: A systematic review. PLoS One, 16(8), e0255621. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0255621.
Macintyre, V.G., Cotterill, S., Anderson, J., Phillipson, C., Benton, J.S. & French, D.P. (2019). "I would never come here because I've got my own garden": Older adults' perceptions of small urban green spaces. Int J Environ Res Public Health, 16(11), 1994. doi: 10.3390/ijerph16111994
Marsh, P., Brennan, S. & Vandenberg, M. (2018). ‘It’s not therapy, it’s gardening’: Community gardens as sites of comprehensive primary healthcare. Australian Journal of Primary Health, 24, 337-342. doi: 10.1071/PY17149
McFarland, A., Waliczek, T.M. Etheredge, C. & Sommerfeld Lillard, A.J. (2018). Understanding motivations for gardening using a qualitative general inductive approach. HortTechnology, 28(3). https://doi.org/10.21273/HORTTECH03972-18
McQuillan, S. (2021). 11 ways plants enhance your mental and emotional health. Psychologytoday.com
National Gardening Association Editors. (2021). Food is medicine. The National Gardening AssociationLearning Library. https://garden.org/learn/articles/view/2512/
National Institutes of Health. (2016). Plants: Partners in health? https://newsinhealth.nih.gov/2016/04/plants-partners-health
Odeh, R., Diehl, E.R.M., Nixon, S.J., Tisher, C.C., Klempner, D., Sonke, J.K. et al. (2022). A pilot randomized controlled trial of group-based indoor gardening and art activities demonstrates therapeutic benefits to healthy women. PLoS ONE, 17(7), e0269248. https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0269248
Ohly, H., Gentry, S., Wigglesworth, R., et al. (2016). A systematic review of the health and well-being impacts of school gardening: Synthesis of quantitative and qualitative evidence. BMC Public Health 16, 286. doi: 10.1186/s12889-016-2941-0
Palar, K., Lemus Hufstedler, E., Hernandez, K. et al. (2019). Nutrition and health improvements after participation in an urban home garden program. JNEB, 51(9), 1037-1046. Park, S.A., Lee, A.Y., Lee, K.S. & Son, K.C. (2014). Gardening tasks performed by adults are moderate-to high intensity physical activities. Horttechnology, 24(1), 58–63. doi: 10.21273/HORTTECH.24.1.58 Park. S.A., Lee, A.Y., Lee, G.J., Kim, D.S., Kim, W.S., Shoemaker, C.A. & Son, K.C. (2016). Horticultural activity interventions and outcomes: A review. Horticultural Science & Technology 34(4):513-527.
Park, S., Lee, A.Y. & Park, H. (2019). Benefits of gardening activities for cognitive function according to measurements of brain nerve growth factor levels. International Journal of Environmental Res. Public Health 16(5). doi: 10.3390/ijerph16050760
Park, S.A., Son, S.Y., Lee, A.Y., Park, H.G., Lee, W.L. & Lee, C.H. (2020). Metabolite profiling revealed that a gardening activity program improves cognitive ability correlated with BDNF levels and serotonin metabolism in the elderly. International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health 17(2):541.
Park, S.A., Lee, H.S., Lee, K.S., Son, K.C. & Shoemaker, C. (2015). The metabolic costs of gardening tasks in children. HortTechnolog,y 23, 589-594. doi: 10.21273/HORTTECH.23.5.589 Perez Lugones, D. (2022). Exploring home gardener needs with citizen science. Cultivate, 2(3), 14-15. Pieters, H.C., Ayala, L., Schneider, A., Wicks, N., Levine-Dickman, A. & Clinton, S. (2018). Gardening on a psychiatric inpatient unit: Cultivating recovery. Archives of Psychiatric Nursing, 33(1), 57-64. doi: 10.1016/j.apnu.2018.10.001
Porter, C.M., Wechsler, A.M., Naschold, F., Hime, S.J. & Fox, L. (2019). Assessing health impacts of home food gardens with Wind River Indian Reservation families: Protocol for a randomized controlled trial. BMJ Open 9(4), e002731. doi: 10.1136/bmjopen-2018-022731
Raymond, C.M., Diduck, A.P., Buijs, A., Boerchers, M. & Moquin, R. (2019). Exploring the co-benefits (and costs) of home gardening for biodiversity conservation. Local Environ., 24, 258–73. doi: 10.1080/13549839.2018.156165
Relf. P.D. (2021). Collaboration is the key to expanding health and life quality through horticulture. ISHS Acta Horticulturae 1330: XV International People Plant Symposium and II International Symposium on Horticultural Therapies: The Role of Horticulture in Human Well-being and Social Development. Ryan-Krause, P. (2018). Gardening: A path to development and health. Pediatric Nursing, 44(4), 191- 201.
Savoie-Roskos, M.R., Wengreen, H. & Durward C. (2017). Increasing fruit and vegetable intake among children and youth through gardening-based interventions: A systematic review. Journal of Academy Nutrition and Dietetics 117, 240-50. doi:10.1016/j.jand.2016.10.014
Schmutz, U., Lennartsson, M., Williams, S., Devereaux, M. & Davies, G. (2014). The benefits of gardening and food growing for health and wellbeing. Garden Organic and Sustainability. http://www.sustainweb.org/resources/files/reports/GrowingHealth_BenefitsRe port.pdf
Shoemaker, C.A., Relf, P.D., Park, S. & Dorn, S. (2021). Hortophilia hypothesis. ISHS Acta Horticulturae 1330: XV International People Plant Symposium and II International Symposium on Horticultural Therapies: The Role of Horticulture in Human Well-being and Social Development.
Silva, T.P. & Araujo, A.M.s. (2020). Perception of improvement in people with disabilities who cultivate plants. ISHS Acta Horticulturae 1279: XXX International Horticultural Congress IHC2018: Vll Conference on Landscape and Urban Horticulture, lV Conference on Turfgrass Management and Science for Sports Fields and ll Symposium on Mechanization, Precision Horticulture, and Robotics.
Spano, G., D’Este, M., Giannico, V., Carrus, G., Elia, M., Lafortezza, R., Panno, A. & Sanesi, G. (2020). Are community gardening and horticultural interventions beneficial for psychosocial well-being? A meta- analysis. International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health, 17(10), 3584. Stluka, S., McCormack, L.A., Burdette, L., Dvorak, S., Knight, N., Lindvall, R., Pierce, L., Schoch, J. & Walking, P. (2019). Gardening for health: Using garden coordinators and volunteers to implement rural school and community gardens. Prev Chronic Dis., 16, E156. doi: 10.5888/pcd16.190117 Thompson, R. (2018). Gardening for health: A regular dose of gardening. Clinical Medicine (London, England), 18(3), 201–205. https://doi.org/10.7861/clinmedicine.18-3-201
van Den Berg, A.E. & Custers, M.H. (2011). Gardening promotes neuroendocrine and affective restoration from stress. Journal Health Psychology 16, 3-11. doi: 10.1177/1359105310365577
van Lier, L.E., Utter, J., Denny, S., Lucassen, M., Dyson, B. & Clark, T. (2017). Home gardening and the health and well-being of adolescents. Health Promotion Practice,18(1), 34-43.
Wang, D. & MacMillan, T. (2013). The benefits of gardening for older adults: A systematic review of the literature. Activities, Adaptation & Aging 37, 1533-81. doi: 10.1080/01924788.2013.784942
Wu, Y.C. & Chang, C.Y. (2021). The impact of landscape plant fragrance on emotion and brain responses. ISHS Acta Horticulturae 1313: International Symposium on Horticultural Therapies: Past, Present and Future
Wood, C.J., Pretty, J. & Griffin, M. (2016). A case-control study of the health and well-being benefits of allotment gardening. Journal Public Health (Oxf) 38(3), e336-e344. doi: 10.1093/pubmed/fdv146.