Senior Organic Gardeners Strategic Plan

PRIMARY OBJECTIVES – Therapeutic Organic Gardening

1. Inspire and engage seniors’ active participation in therapeutic organic gardening as much as they wish and are able.

Garden Box, Russell Manor

Rationale – Senior aged adults who engage in vegetable gardening lead happier healthier lives. Recent research from Texas State University reveals that seniors who garden consume more vegetables than non-gardeners, no matter when they start gardening in their lives. Providing opportunities and support for seniors wishing to garden in their own homes or in residences can act as a tool to enhance the well being and health of seniors, both by increasing vegetable consumption and providing opportunities for physical activity.

A shared gardening space enhances one’s living environment while promoting health and mental wellbeing. Gardens provide a space to engage with nature, but in a shared setting they also provide a space to cultivate relationships. By engaging directly in the creation and maintenance of a beautiful, useful and growing space, gardeners socialize and connect with fellow residents, helping to build a sense of community and develop shared pride.

Strategies – Provide resources and support for seniors living at home to engage in a level of gardening appropriate to their physical abilities e.g. raised bed gardens, container gardening, etc.

Create a welcoming and open space for seniors living in residences and retirement homes to engage in vegetable gardening at a level appropriate to their physical abilities.

Create gardening workshops** and educational materials as resource materials for residence and home gardening for seniors.

2. Encourage and support healthy lifestyles with increased consumption of local, fresh, organic produce in locations where seniors do their own cooking.

Rationale – Healthy lifestyles involve improved diet with increased consumption of vegetables and fruits with increasing knowledge and skills in food preparation.

Strategies – Organic gardening will be followed cooking hubs and pleasurable eating experiences integrated with learning about nutrition.

3. Through therapeutic gardening, seniors are able to develop an increased sense of satisfaction, responsibility, and an opportunity to exercise decision-making.

Rationale – Studies have demonstrated that responsibility and control of one’s environment contribute to a reduction in the deterioration of both physical and mental states of elders (Sempik 2003).

In a therapeutic gardening setting, seniors can have a sense of being responsible for the plants, as well as an opportunity to exercise decision-making as far as being involved with a plant’s growth, maintenance and sustenance.

Strategies – The regular attendance of the SOG Manager building relationships around organic gardening of vegetables, herbs and edible flowers, cooking and nutrition is intended to enhance the qualities of character, relationship building skills and self-reliance.

4. Offer opportunities to share gardens, gardening, gardening stories and organic produce through intergenerational & multicultural get-togethers.

Rationale – Some opportunities for seniors to interact with children and youth are available with our Growing Up Organic Program in schools throughout the City of Ottawa. is one way to accomplish this objective. Inviting seniors of other cultures to share their stories of gardening in a program “Gardens of the World”. We continue to explore other ways as well.

LONG RANGE OBJECTIVE

1. Forge connections that seniors may link their experiences to the mystery of life, the cycles of nature with love and respect for themselves, others and the environment through organic gardening.

Rationale – Seniors can have time and be more open to reflection about the mystery of life. Gardening opens the door to thoughts about the cycles of nature.

Strategies – SOG pays particular attention to seniors’ thoughts and dreams throughout planting, maintaining and harvesting the gardens. Numerous horticultural therapy activities are carried out with edible flowers, vegetables and herbs for enjoyment along with related music and art. These are opportunities for seniors to express their deepest thoughts and concerns.

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