Growing things connect us with Nature. Over the years, we have expanded our fruit, vegetable and flower gardens and added a small orchard. In the process, we have engaged many campers who seem to enjoy the simple but purposive process of tilling, sowing, weeding, tending and harvesting.
While gardening has been recognized as therapeutic since ancient times, it was Dr. Benjamin Rush, a signer of the Declaration of Independence and recognized as the “Father of American Psychiatry,” was first to document the positive effect working in the garden had on individuals in the 19th Century.1 Benefits from gardening and formal horticulture therapy are many. The American Horticultural Therapy Association lists 27 distinct benefits.2 The book Gardening for Children With Autism Spectrum Disorders and Special Educational Needs lists others.3 Additional studies are equally encouraging.4 5 6
We have a well-established garden at Camp Krem, consisting of seven large raised beds growing flowers, herbs, fruit and vegetables. In addition we have a newly established orchard, courtesy of Bob Mason, our wonderful neighbor who has been honored by both Santa Cruz county and the San Andreas Regional Center for his volunteer work.