Intergenerational Gardening is the practice of gardening with a diverse age group. Young and old come together and make use of the energy and imagination of young people and the experience and maturity of senior citizens. It allows youth to interact with the elderly on a personal, individual level and to work together toward common goals. Seniors serve as models of adulthood and mentors for the kids they work with and young and old alike break preexisting stereotypes about the other generation as they see the positive contributions each can make.
Benefits for Elderly
Gardening with kids can counteract the sense of loss of control, disengagement from life, and ensuing depression that can prey on people confined to retirement homes. For many people, this model provides an opportunity to use existing gardening skills. For others, it provides the excitement of learning a new skill. It also provides the gratification of serving as mentors and tangible satisfaction of planning, planting, and tending to a garden. The practice of gardening provides the pleasure of anticipation and having something to look forward to.
Benefits for Kids
Young people can learn from the experiences of the elderly. Seniors’ personal histories provide an abundance of fascinating stories. Some elderly grew up in rural communities and on farms and had very different childhoods from today’s youth. Most will remember a time before TV, air conditioning, and microwave cooking, and they can give children an exposure to a different ways of growing up. Working in a garden setting will lend itself to talk of how people used to live, reflecting on a time when many families grew most of their food.
Growing food provides both mental and physical exercise that is needed by both young and old, and when groups from different age brackets garden together, shared experiences in the garden become lessons in diversity as well. Below are more benefits of intergenerational gardening, and you can find more information at https://ecommons.cornell.edu/handle/1813/3629
Benefits of Intergenerational Gardening
- Capitalize on elderly population as role models and mentors for youth.
- Build independence of both elderly and youth groups.
- Break down stereotypes and develop mutual respect.
- Improve self-esteem and mental wellness in both the young and elderly through real-life decision making.
- Develop young people’s interest in food production as a hobby or career and rejuvenate or develop the elderly’s interest in edible or ornamental gardening.
- Enhance awareness of environmental science in the community.
- Encourage physical exercise. Gardening activities involve both fine and gross motor movements and use muscles from all parts of the body.