Prairie Yard & Garden: Nature-Based Therapeutics


(midtempo piano music) – [Announcer] Prairie Yard
and Garden is a production of the University of Minnesota, Morris in cooperation with
Pioneer Public Television. Funding for Prairie Yard
and Garden is provided in part by Heartland Motor
Company, providing service for over 30 years in the
heart of truck country. Heartland Motor Company. We have your best interest at heart. Farmer’s Mutual Telephone Company and Federated Telephone Cooperative, proud to be powering Acira. Mark and Margaret Yackel Juleens, in honor of Shalom Hill Farm, a
non-profit rural education retreat center in a
beautiful prairie setting near Windham and Southwestern Minnesota. Shalom Hill Farm. ShalomHill.org. Diamond Willow Advanced
Care Assisted Living, providing custom homes
with smaller settings designed especially for high care needs. – My mom and dad were lifetime gardeners. Dad had a nice big garden
even battling cancer the last summer of his life. Then, Mom was diagnosed with
cancer the following year. For Mother’s Day, we
potted up the flowerpots with her beloved red geraniums. But as a treat, we gave her
a dwarf cherry tomato plant that she could enjoy on
her windowsill inside. It was NBT. Come along and see what
those letters mean. (smooth jazz plays) Several years ago, there
was a young man with Autism who helped my husband with
his flowers in the gardens. Between the two, I’m not
sure who enjoyed it more. We also have a friend who
claims working in the yard with plants is her personal psychiatrist. I’m Mary Holm, and come along as we visit with Jean Larson who tells
us our friend might be right as we learn about the many
benefits of working with nature. Welcome Jean. – Thanks for having me. It’s great to be here. – Tell me. What do the letters NBT stand for? And what does that mean? – Nature based therapeutics
is an umbrella term to describe animal assisted interactions, horticultural therapy,
therapeutic landscapes, wilderness therapy, care
farming, green exercise, forest bathing, many, many
different adjunct therapies that are nature based. And so, nature based therapeutics is the umbrella term to describe those. – [Mary] And so, it can be not just with plants, but animals too? – [Jean] Absolutely so, my background is in recreation therapy and so,
when I was hired back in ’92, I told Peter Olin that, “I’m gonna try “to bring as many different
ways of nature to people “so that there’s a buffet of options. “Because not everybody likes
to put their hands in soil. “Some people like to take
walks out in the forest. “Some people like to pet a dog.” And so, over the years, we
have developed many different adjunct therapies and have called them nature based therapeutics. Well, we started off pretty exclusively with horticulture therapy and the way that our programs work is we set up contracts with different agencies
within the Twin City area. And the services that we
provide them include, now, in addition to the
therapeutic horticulture, we have animal assisted interactions. And we have a program
called culture and cuisine. And it’s a once a month
engagement activity where folks come from the group homes, and we pick a certain vegetable topic, and then we design our
meal around that topic and we learn about that vegetable. So culture and cuisine is one of them. Crop shares is the other one where each of the group homes has a different plant that they’re growing and
then, in the summertime, we come together and we share the crop. And we learn about different
ways in which we can prepare those vegetables or plants. – Jean, who can benefit from NBT? – Anybody. That’s the simple answer. Anybody can benefit from
nature based therapeutics. Now, you get into things a little bit more intentional, purposeful
with measurable outcomes because we’re working with
people with eating disorders. We’re working with folks with
persistent mental illness. We’re working with
children on the spectrum. We work with a variety of
different populations of people. And so, our programming has, like I said, more intention and a
little bit more purpose. However, everybody can benefit
from the healing aspects of gardening. And that goes back to that idea
that we are part of nature. There’s a hypothesis called biophilia. Bio is nature and philia is love. And Neil Wilson talks
about how we have an innate attraction, connection to nature. And I like to explain biophilia
by explaining biophobia. Now, how many times have you
ever seen a snake whip by, or a spider, or seen
something that you startle? Just kind of react automatically? Well, that’s biophobia. That we as a collective
people, consciousness, we’ve taught each other over
generations and generations, “Stay away from that snake. “It’s a rattlesnake. “Stay away from that mushroom. “It’s poisonous.” So, that’s biophobia
when we want to stay away from nature because we
want to survive, right? So biophilia is the flip side of that, and that’s our love of nature. And I would say it’s
also for us to survive. That we have found locations, places. We have gardens. We have different ways in
which we support nature within parks and green space
around our communities. That’s all of this innate
need to be around nature. – [Mary] I read an
article not too long ago that says hospital patients
recover better or faster if they have a view of nature. Have you read something like that? Or are you familiar with that? – Yeah, so back in 1984 Roger Allrick, he wrote this seminal
article, research article, about how patients who had just recovered from gallbladder surgery,
half of them looked out at beautiful images of
nature, trees and a park, and then the other half
looked at the brick wall. And he saw that consistently
those who were looking out at nature recovered faster
from their gallbladder surgery, required fewer pain medications,
and had fewer complaints. And in addition to that,
the staff were happier in that particular area
of the hospital, as well. And so that research, which was very, it was simple but it was so convincing that there’s a healing
effect of looking at nature, that really started to
set the ball rolling. And so over the past 30
years, we’ve been gathering more and more data to help
support that idea that nature, yes, is very
healing to us, as humans. And that makes sense right? Because we come from the
earth, we return to the earth, and in between we garden. We have this relationship with nature. It’s so important to us. From a sense of survival,
we need to have nature in order for us to, you know, breathe, and eat, and have shelter. But then there’s also
part of us that benefits from nature on an emotional
and spiritual level. That we find comfort and
restoration when we’re in nature. It’s really important to us. And now, we’ve gotten so
far removed from nature in our society which is, you know, technology is great. But as Richard Loup says,
“The more technology we have, “the more nature we need. “It has to be balanced out.” And so, nature based
therapeutics is really about reconnecting people with nature. In fact there was a thing
that I did at the University a couple of years ago
called Dirty by Thirty. And it was encouraging
students and staff to get out into nature for 30 minutes
each day for 30 days. And it was a great program because folks had opportunities
that were structured, that they were able to engage with. We also had a website that
came to their email every day, that they could see different ideas. And we had a bus going
to and from the Arboretum on the weekends, so we had
so many different things that were available to people. It really helped to
provide that engagement and that reconnection. And think about it. I mean, nature is something that’s free and accessible to all of us. We just have to look outside our window, or take that moment to park
the car a little further and walk that extra length
to get into the store so that we can have some
time to relax and decompress. Roger Allrick has a theory and it’s called stress reduction theory and it really is how our brains work. And how we have, in our brains, an ability to feel calmer when we are with nature. And so, the research over,
like I said, about 30 years have been building more and more to say, I can say pretty, pretty solid
that the research supports that nature is helpful for us. Now the research is trying to
find out what kind of nature, what specific aspects of
nature, how much nature, what dose of nature? So that we can hone in a
little bit more specifically because there’s a trend
for a prescription. In fact, in the United
Kingdom they have a, their own national
nature medicine program. And doctors and psychiatrists
prescribe people to go out into nature as
a part of their regiment, instead of just, “Here, take
this, you know, opioid.” Or something. In fact, we’re doing
some research right now with the children’s
hospital where we’re working with patients who have just
had pancreatic transplant. These are eight to eighteen year old kids. And they have very delicate systems. They can’t be with nature or plants, that kind of thing, so
what we’ve brought in are virtual reality glasses. And so, the kids can
access those glasses when they’re feeling pain, nausea,
or any kind of anxiety. So then, they put on the glasses and we have programmed in those glasses specific really rich
green images of nature and fun things at the
farm to watch, you know, animals at the farm, or going
down into the Grand Canyon, all within these virtual reality glasses. And it’s amazing because,
if you’re distracted looking at those glasses and
some procedure is happening, you don’t even realize that
you’ve just gone through this. As opposed to, you know,
sitting there and just kind of getting that
procedure done and just all the anxiety and stress
that’s aroused in that regard. – So, I can see where schools, hospitals, it’s funny you say that
because I had to go to the dentist last week for a procedure which I just loved, and
they had pictures of flowers up on a screen that I could
watch as this was being done. So, really that was… – That’s Roger Allrick, because remember, the viewing of the nature? That was a big thing that kind of came in the early 90s was a lot
of hospitals then started to have animals and pictures
of nature, and the thing is, we want to have real nature, nature that’s familiar to your area. So maybe you wouldn’t have a desert in your Maple Grove dentist? You’d have something that would
be like the boundary waters, so that you could relate to it and find a sense of familiarity to it. And so, looking at nature,
having nature on your screen, you know, saver of your
computer is really helpful. Just having a window and
looking out the window, little simple things that just trigger us from our relationship with nature a long, long time ago in our brain and how our brain works. – My husband and I visit the nursing home, the local nursing home, and
they have an apiary in there. Cute, cute little birds. And then, within the last number of years, they have also built a park scene in there with artificial plants. But they have running
water with fish in there. So, that would be part of the
nature based therapeutics? – Yep. Trying to incorporate different
things that are familiar that would be something
that, I’m probably wondering if some of the folks on that
floor have some memory issues? And so, yeah, perhaps those
trigger some longer term memory cause often times dementia
you lose short term memory. And so, longer term memories
that you can help reminisce, “I remember sitting on the park bench “and those flowers?” It might be artificial flowers, I would much rather have them be real, but if you are dealing with somebody who has a pika, or somehow eating things that may not be very good for them, artificial would be a good substitute. But yeah, that’s all
that way in which we can have nature familiar and
churning those memories. Yeah, so it’s in the design. – You can also, also use raised beds. So, for example if someone
is in a wheelchair, whether they have an age
related illness or even just somebody who has a hereditary thing, you can actually have
raised beds so that people can still garden or enjoy plants too. Can’t you? – Well, I’ll tell you what Mary. I have always advocated for raised beds for everybody because a couple of reasons. One, if you’re in kind
of a brown out area, you can bring in soil so that you don’t have to use that icky soil. So, you can bring in soil
since it’s raised up. For me, I have, I broke my back, and so, it’s really helpful for
me, with back issues, in kind of alleviating that. So, if you don’t have back issues, you can be proactive
and have the raised bed. And then the other thing about
it is I think raised beds eliminate a lot of that weed cause you can control it a little bit better. But in particularly, if
you’re looking at somebody who has ambulation needs or
somebody who needs to sit while they’re gardening,
raised beds are fantastic. And there’s so many different
kinds of raised beds and designs, in fact that’s… Here at the Arboretum, we
have a whole sensory garden that is, I like to call
it, a demonstration and display garden of
accessible gardening. – [Mary] What can you
use for the materials to build a raised bed? – Well, you can use just
about anything, an old shoe, as long as it has drainage. However, what you want to be mindful of is what you then put into the variety of different materials. For example, if you are then
using old railroad ties, which are great, I mean, there’s
a lot of them around there. But you wouldn’t want
to put anything in there that’s edible because it could be that that pent up leaks into the soil. So, any ornamentals are fine for that. Green treated, you know, aggregate pavers, concrete blocks, brick, you
know, just about anything. Old tubs. If you have an old tub, as
long as it’s got drainage. I have a couple of old horse
troughs that my husband and I just drilled a bunch
of holes all over the bottom and along the lower end of it. And that works just great. You can get new horse
troughs and put them onto a dolly and you can have a raised bed that you can kind of move around. It’s great. That’s really a fun one for kids. – [Mary] Jean, you had mentioned not using railroad ties for vegetables. What about treated lumber? – Same thing. That could possibly leach. So I would say ornamentals, no problem. Maybe even herbs? I would line it, you know, with some kind of a heavier plastic if you’re going to do something with herbs. But definitely not any kind of vegetables. – [Mary] So, anything
that you’re going to eat, maybe don’t plant into those, into beds made out of those materials? – [Jean] Anything that has any kind of potential toxicity,
you want to just avoid. – [Mary] Okay. – [Jean] Yeah. – How do people get
started going a project? – Well, if you are a homeowner, go in your backyard and start a garden. If you’re a nursing home
or social service agency, very often times you are working
with your activity program or your recreational program,
and you can always call me, and I provide a lot of resources. We have a great website
at the Arboretum and nature based therapeutics,
so I would say probably the rule that I have for starting programs is start small and build on success. Because, if you’re
trying to convince people of the idea that nature is therapeutic, it’s much better to have a container that lots of people are accessing, and it’s really easy to
show how successful it is. And then you can say, “We
started off with this container. “You know, maybe next year, we can raise “some money and get a raised bed? “That might be the next step.” But, you know, to have a grand plan and start with a green house may be a little bit over achieving. Start small. Build on success. – Okay. Jean, what is the difference
between a healing garden and, like, a therapeutic landscape? – Great question. So, let’s just imagine at a hospital, and you have a garden as
you’re entering the hospital and there’s areas that have a pergola, that have seating in it. There’s some fun sculpture
in it for the kids. That is a garden that anybody can access as they’re going to and from,
in and out of the hospital. Staff can go out there and
sit and have their lunch. Families can go out there and sit while a procedure’s happening. Patients can come out and sit and interact with their families. That would be a healing garden. And it really has, it’s
a garden for everybody. A therapeutic landscape would be something that might be directly
outside the physical therapy or occupational therapy area. And the garden might have
an arch where somebody who is recovering from
a stroke has to reach. Or it might be a planter where somebody has to work on their fine motor skills and pull out, and these are
things that might happen in the physical therapy or
occupational therapy area but they might be done
with, like, a peg board or they might be done something
that’s more contrived. The garden does these
same kinds of exercises but they have a reason or a purpose. And very often times,
like at the Courage Kenny, we have gardened. A lot of the folks gardened
before they had their stroke. And so, they want to
learn how to get back out in the garden when they go home. And so, the garden can be a
place where they can learn about accessibility and
they can learn about different ways in which
ergonomic tools are used. And a variety of different
ways the garden can be kind of a transitionary platform to get back into the household. – Now, you have a sensory garden
here at the Arboretum too. Would it be possible to actually see some of the plants that have been incorporated into there and maybe why
those plants were used? – [Jean] Absolutely. (soft jazz plays) – I have a question. How should I provide adequate
exposure to my grapevine? – This time of year, which
would be around late June, early July, we’ve got fairly
fully developed canopies at this point, and to get
your fruit ready for the Fall, there’s a number of
techniques that we can do to get that fruit exposed to the sun. And one of those techniques
would be called leaf pulling or lateral shoot pulling at the same time. That just looks like this. We’re working in this fruit
zone where the fruit is born. And I actually have a
shoot that I’ve pulled out of the vine here to show you exactly how the fruit is born at
the base of the shoots and the rest of the shoot
is basically leaf material that is used for creating the
sugars that feed the fruit. And if we want to get that fruit exposed, we would be removing these
lateral shoots, like this, that are born at the axle of the leaves, and we removing those
around the fruit there as well as a few leaves around the fruit. And basically that’s nothing more to it. When harvest does come around these guys will be fully mature and
purple at that point. Right now, they’re just a
little bit bigger than BB size. As they get harvested, the
leaves will continue to ripen as well on the shoots,
and when they do fall off, in the Fall, we would then
be calling this a cane. So, in the summertime
when it’s growing green it’s called a shoot, but in
the Fall this becomes a cane. So this is our material for
next year’s fruit again. Another tip to realize
about exposing your fruit is that we would want
to pull more leaves and more lateral shoots on the
north side of the canopy versus on the south side because the south side has that direct sunlight. We need to leave a few leaves here to give that dappled sunlight effect. The north side, we can more
fully expose that fruit because that wrap around
sun would be helpful and maintaining less disease
would be helpful that way too. To get those leaves on
the north side pulled off more than on the south side. Likewise if you’re rows are
running North and South, you would want to pull more
leaves on the East side of the canopy versus on the West side. You would leave a few more
to give that dappled sunlight and a little bit of sun
protection from the heat of the day on that side. – [Announcer] Ask the Arboretum
experts has been brought to you by the Minnesota
Landscape Arboretum in Chanhassen, dedicated
to enriching lives through the appreciation
and knowledge of plants. – Well, we were just talking
about therapeutic landscapes and this would be an example
of how you can design a garden bed that would be
more accessible for somebody who is working on range of
motion or eye hand coordination. Like, here’s some weeds here. Very often times in our programming, we don’t have anyone doing the weeding except for the participants because that gives folks something to do and focus on. So, a person could just pull that out and it’s, it’s a very convenient way… The way that this is designed
is it’s a little shallow here at the front end so that you
can wheel up underneath it and you’re not gonna bang your knees, but then about right here
it starts to slant down. So, if you wanted to plant
something like a tomato that has a deeper root, you
could plant a tomato here and then have the tomato
cascade down on the other side so then you can wheel
around and then you can pick your tomatoes then from that other side. So, it’s just, it’s a design, you know, an intentional design
for that accessibility. – [Mary] And then you
also have another bed that incorporates things
with different textures and smells, right? – [Jean] Oh, yeah. That’s a sensory walkway. – [Mary] Can we see that? – [Jean] Absolutely. (soft jazz plays) Mary, this is our sensory walkway. Isn’t it beautiful? – [Mary] Yes, it is. – So, remember we talked
about a healing garden, therapeutic landscape,
and then sensory garden. So there’s all these
different kinds of terms. And the sensory garden is
really your intentionally and purposefully designing
the garden so that there is touch, there is smell,
there is sight, there is sound. And you’re doing it in a way that is like almost reaching out to you. Like, “Here, look at this catmint.” And lookit, who’s on there? Our pollinator friend, the Bombus. So, and that’s actually a part
of a sensory experience too. Not getting stung,
because fuzzy bees we know are not gonna sting us because we’re not really anything interesting to them, but just the sound of the bumblebee is raising our sensory awareness and
stimulating our senses. But like this Artemisia, rubbing that, smelling your hands, it smells so good. We got echinacea back
here, the cone flower. Once that heads out it’s got a different kind of texture on the top. We have the irises here, so just… We have big beds of
lots of color to kind of just catch your attention
and actually right now, it’s about the blues it looks like. And we try to have things
that are stimulating senses throughout the whole growing season. So it might not be right now
that there’s a lot of blue, but maybe yellows soon, and
maybe they’ll be some red. But all the different season… Parts of the Summer
season will have things that are in bloom here. – [Mary] That’s what I’ve noticed in that you have designed things to
have different things coming into color at different times. That’s really neat. – [Jean] So, I think
that the only, you know, caveat to this would be to
design it so that the plants you’re using are not gonna
be toxic or something that might be poisonous to somebody. But, you know, the day lily,
I mean you can eat all parts of the day lily, so that’s not a big deal. This is a mint, that’s not a problem if that just happened to
get into somebody’s mouth. So, you just be attentive
to thinking about the needs of the folks that you’re working with and then choosing plants that are gonna be sensory stimulating that
would be appropriate for them. – Jean, thank you so much for sharing your wonderful knowledge about NBT. This was so interesting. – Oh, thank you Mary. It’s been a pleasure. And, I encourage people,
if they’re interested in learning more about accessibility
and the sensory garden, they come down here to
the Arboretum and they can just reach me here at the Arboretum. And my name is Jean Larson. – [Announcer] Funding for
Prairie Yard and Garden is provided in part by
Heartland Motor Company, providing service for over 30 years in the heart of truck country. Heartland Motor Company. We have your best interest at heart. Farmer’s Mutual Telephone Company and Federated Telephone Cooperative. Proud to be powering Acira. Mark and Margret Yackel Juleen in honor of Shalom Hill Farm, a
non-profit rural education retreat center in a
beautiful prairie setting near Windham in Southwestern Minnesota. Shalom Hill Farm. Shalomhill.org. Diamond Willow Advanced
Care Assisted Living, providing custom homes
with smaller settings designed especially for high care needs. (soft jazz plays)