An Investigation into the Potential of Horticultural and Nature-Based Interventions for Change

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Mary-Elizabeth (Liz) Guenther


The majority of the planet’s inhabitants live in urban areas, and vulnerable populations are much more likely to live in urban environments with many barriers preventing wellness promotion (Africa et al., 2014). Marginalized communities are significantly more likely to have limited access to natural environments, leading to detrimental and life-threatening impacts on community wellbeing (Africa et al., 2014). Previous research has shown how horticultural therapy possesses the power to reduce stress and anxiety symptoms, bolster productivity, establish community connectedness, and promote resilience (Hall & Knuth, 2019). Horticultural therapy could include walks through nature or gardening to accomplish its powerful effects (Meredith et al., 2020). Although these findings about nature-based interventions are promising, there are still gaps in the literature researching horticultural therapy interventions. In addition, the horticultural therapy field lacks research about the evaluation of programs that utilize several disciplines to deliver multifaceted horticultural community programs. In the current study, a systematic literature review of horticultural interventions will assess the potential impacts of horticultural therapy and community interventions. Additionally, foundational and innovative measures will be gathered to evaluate the impact of a current Cook County program empowering high school students. The literature will highlight how interdisciplinary horticultural programs can be utilized to promote community change, and how these programs can be evaluated.

Keywords: horticultural therapy, health equity, and nature-based therapy.

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Author Biography

Mary-Elizabeth (Liz) Guenther

About the author: Liz Guenther is a senior BSW student minoring in Community-Based Art
Education. She hopes to graduate in Spring 2022. She is passionate about researching
alternative social work interventions to promote social change, such as art therapy and
horticultural therapy.