Harvest for health

I got really excited when I read this research study a couple of weeks ago.  I think it sounds such a lovely idea.

Its a new type of therapy for cancer patients - vegetable gardening.  In the study at the university of Alabama, breast cancer patients were paired with a master gardener. They then worked together to plant a small garden in the patient's yard or in a Earthbox - a gardening container on wheels that can be kept on a porch or patio or just by the front door. The garden was planted with vegetable seedlings.  The idea behind the study was that the gardening project would encourage increased activity to plant and maintain the garden, and  then increase their vegetable intake by eating the fruits (or veggies!) of their labor.  I also think it would be good to increase the patient's self efficacy from having managed to try something new.

I'd love to see us at Ceres be able to expand to incorporate this.  At Ceres, our clients (mostly cancer patients) can have free food for 12 weeks and then another 12 weeks for a donation. It would be perfect to set them up with a garden at the 12 week time point and encourage them to grow their own organic vegetables so that when their food delivery ends, they will have learned how to cook and prepare their own vegetables.

There are horticultural therapy programs around the US and UK.  And if you've grown your own fruit and vegetables before you know what a labor of love it is - and more importantly - how exciting it is to eat your own home grown produce within minutes of harvesting it.

Anyhow - back to the study…. it was a year long feasibility study in 12 adult and child cancer survivors. The gardening intervention was well received and 90% of the subjects saw improvements in measures of strength, agility and endurance.  In addition, fruit and vegetables servings consumed each day increased in 40% and increases  of >30 minutes/week of physical activity were observed in 60% of the subjects. 

I'd love to see it also studied in groups - where neighbors work together and so you get that community spirit on top of it all.  Or at Ceres, our clients could work together with the teenagers in our garden…..

What do you think? Do you find vegetable gardening therapeutic?  How excited are you to eat your own produce?


Amazon Smile - support your favorite charity

Day 20 of #100happydays is signing up for AmazonSmile.  Have you signed up yet?

I use Amazon for lots of different things but now that I have AmazonSmile, I'm even happier as every time I purchase something, they donate some of that money to Ceres Community Project - the non profit organization I'm involved with in Sonoma.

Amazon Smile is easy. You sign up for it on the regular Amazon page and then it gives you options to search for non-profits in your area or wherever.  You click on the one of your choice and Amazon donates 0.5% of the price of your purchases to the charitable organization you chose.  Its automatic once you've signed up.

Yes, 0.5% isn't a huge percentage but the more people who sign up, the more donations.

Some reckon that this kind of system isn't good in the long run as people don't get the "good feel" when a non profit acknowledges your donation, and some may feel this is enough and not contribute in other ways.  Also they feel it is just a good ploy to get more sales for Amazon.

I have a different view. Yes, its not replacing anything that I already do, but its just a little bonus. I also think it teaches people about philanthropy who may not give any other way, but can make a choice on amazon on who to donate to.  I still think I can feel good supporting - albeit in a small way - a local group, via Amazon. What do you think?

Its similar to iGive - which links to 1400 stores, and each store choses the percentage they donate.  Amazon is on that too, giving 0.8%, and the average amount donated by stores is 3%.  Stores include Crate and Barrel, Walgreens, Staples, Best Buy, ToysRUs, Lowes etc.  I signed up with iGive years ago.

I'm all for different ways we can encourage support to non-profits and teach people about philanthropy.