WASHINGTON — Care farming — using working farms and agricultural landscapes to promote mental and physical health — helped improve veterans’ well-being in a recent study.
With care farming, individuals participate in various horticultural activities and learn useful skills within a safe community and a green environment, a setting shown to improve mental and social well-being.
In the study of 5 veterans of foreign wars (4 men, 1 woman), care farming improved life satisfaction in 3 participants and optimism about future life satisfaction in 2 of the participants. Also, perceived loneliness decreased in 2 participants.
The findings support the use of care farming as a treatment for languishing veterans and for helping individuals with mental struggles.
“Farming acts as a kind of loose group therapy — the veterans are working with people who have had similar experiences that only those who have served in combat truly understand,” said Dr. Arie Greenleaf, co-author of the Journal of Humanistic Counseling study. “The farm provides a space they need to heal, a space where they can grow life rather than destroy it — not a small factor for many veterans trying to come to grips with the death and misery they witnessed in war, at times inflicted by their own hands.”
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