A recent study has found farming can improve the mental and physical well-being of veterans. The therapy called care farming involves individuals in horticultural activities on working farms and agricultural landscapes. Participants learn useful skills in a safe community, surrounded by nature.
"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."
In the study, care farming improved life satisfaction in three of the five foreign war veterans who participated. An increase in optimism about future life satisfaction and a decrease in perceived loneliness was also seen in two of the participants, findings which support the use of this treatment for troubled veterans and others experiencing mental illness.