Public Release: 

Farm work may improve veterans' mental health

Wiley

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IMAGE: This is a growing veterans farm. view more 

Credit: Care farming by Josef Kalinko/Seattle University

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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