The study is ongoing, and has expanded to other counties in Alabama that surround Birmingham. Harvest for Health now receives support from the National Cancer Institute. The University of Alabama at Birmingham provides tools and seedlings, and will prepare a 4×8 foot raised bed in the yard of a participant’s home or provide large gardening containers on wheels for a porch or patio. Master Gardeners now visit with the survivors monthly for 1 year, offering advice and answering the questions that new gardeners have.

According to one Master Gardener: “It was both educational for me and challenging to share the experiences of another individual with a totally different background and life. It was refreshing to see how something as simple as regular communication and support could make a radical difference in attitude and approach to life.”1


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The authors hope that Harvest for Health will become a national program, and conclude: “A mentored gardening intervention among cancer survivors represents a novel and holistic strategy to improve physical function, fruit and vegetable consumption, and physical activity in cancer survivors.”1

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Bette Weinstein Kaplan is a medical writer based in Tenafly, New Jersey. 


REFERENCES

1. Blair CK, Madan-Swain A, Locher JL, et al. Harvest for health gardening intervention feasibility study in cancer survivors. Acta Oncol. 2013;52(6):1110-1118.

2. Brown VM, Allen AC, Dwozan M, et al. Indoor gardening older adults: effects on socialization, activities of daily living, and loneliness. J Gerontol Nurs. 2004;30(10):34-42.

3. Tse MM. Therapeutic effects of an indoor gardening programme for older people living in nursing homes. J Clin Nurs. 2010;19(7-8):949-958.