Breaking Chains and Not Burning Rubber

BREAKING CHAINS - Freedom: Cycle touring is the greatest way I have found to experience freedom. Whilst I celebrate mine I hope to help others gain and realise theirs, and protect ours, by fundraising for Amnesty International

NOT BURNING RUBBER - Environmental Awareness: Cycling is one of the most efficient and sustainable modes of transport. It's slow speed allows you to become more aware and connected with our surroundings, and therefore the pressures that they may be under. I intent to have a minimal negative impact on the environment whilst I travel, and will share my observations and experiences about my journey, environmental issues, and sustainable living here:

Friday, 11 November 2011

Plants that Heal

I've spend the last few weeks volunteering through wwoof at a garden in a Mens Psychiatric hospital.
It is an amazing space with mature trees, a large greenhouse, and permaculture modelled vegatable beds. There are many volunteers there from overseas and Argentina, and the patients wander in and out through the day, but most seemed to appear for the lunch (certainly a better atmosphere than elsewhere in the hospital to have it) and to chat up the female volunteers (I can't blame them!).
The nice natural environment was clearly of benefit to the patients and one of them was there everyday putting in a lot of hard work. The Psychologist who had worked at the hospital for 30 years belived it was a great asset. I hope there are more of these in other homes and hospitals (if, or when, I end up in one I will appriciate it...). The was a lot of visitors from outside the hospital so maybe it is a model to be used elsewhere in the country. I have heard of similar projects in the UK.
Unfortunately they did lack organisation, skills, and tools / equipment, but they had plenty of ideas and tried many, such as seed balls.
I donated a few tools to them from the cost of equipment donated to me for my trip.
There are other examples of the benefits of gardens for healing. A couple of Months ago whilst in Santiago I visited an amazing lady who ran a Herbarium part of which was a healing garden set up for horticultural therapy. Beds where built at heights for disabled visitors and plants were selected to stimulate all senses - touch, smell, visual.

Another area was set out in the shape of a butterfly, with each wing segment been used by different local youth and school groups to experiment with what they could grow. A great break from the slums that some of them come from.

Hopefully more people will get the chance benefit from the healing potential of plants and natural environments.
I know for one after 4 weeks in the big city (the longest I have ever spent inner city) I am in great need of some treeshugging therapy ;)

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