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Study finds care farming improves veterans’ well-being

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Farming is not only a valuable occupation, it can also be therapeutic. A recent study found that care farming — using working farms and agricultural landscapes to promote mental and physical health — helped improve veterans’ well-being.

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 five veterans of foreign wars (four men, one woman), care farming improved life satisfaction in three participants and optimism about future life satisfaction in two of the participants. Also, perceived loneliness decreased in two 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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