Create Healing Gardens – A New Start for Cancer Survivors
Harvest for Health introduces cancer survivors to the wonderful and rewarding world of gardening. Our gardening intervention program has shown that home gardens increase fruit and vegetable intake, increase physical function and decrease body fat. All of these benefits are important for cancer survivors, who may be at increased risk of developing secondary cancers or other health conditions.
We match cancer survivors with master gardeners. Together, these pairs work to construct and maintain raised bed gardens of herbs and vegetables at cancer survivors’ homes.
In addition to support and advising from an experienced gardening pro, we provide all supplies needed at no cost to participants. For 12 months, cancer survivor and mentor plant, grow and harvest from a home garden.
We plan to mentor 425 cancer survivors during our five-year study. We are partially funded by a grant from the National Institutes of Health (NIH), but we need to raise $15,000 to cover our supplies budget.
A diagnosis of cancer is so much more than doctors’ appointments and physical recovery after treatments. Having something new to think about, something new to learn, can help a survivor reclaim their life after cancer.
One participant said, “I think that cancer can be the worst thing that ever happened to you or it can be a life-changing event — one that you do something with, rather than letting it do something to you.”
Other studies have shown that a diet high in fruits and vegetables benefits cancer survivors, but linking this to gardening has never been done in a medical study. Our pilot study showed that cancer survivors ate more vegetables (113 percent) and improved their physical functioning (79 percent) because of gardening.
This study is a partnership of Auburn University’s Department of Horticulture, Alabama Cooperative Extension, and the University of Alabama at Birmingham’s Comprehensive Cancer Center. We’re the perfect partners for this project and a perfect match to Auburn’s land-grant mission.
UAB recruits the study’s cancer survivors, AU Horticulture provides teaching tools, and Extension agents train and support the master gardener volunteers who serve as mentors.
One mentor said, “What can seem so simple in sun, soil, water, and a seed can be a miraculous life-changing point. This was my cancer survivor’s garden.”
Thank you in advance for helping a cancer survivor find a new start.
Thank you to Safer Brand for donating $10,000 worth of supplies to our project!