Hortitherapy and Freedom

by Irene Pignatelli

With horticultural therapy is meant a modality of intervention based on contact with nature and on gardening activities as a tool of well-being. Thanks to an active interaction with plants it is possible to obtain intellectual, physical, emotional and social benefits that lead to an improvement in people’s quality of life.

There is a rich scientific literature concerning contact with the natural environment. To cite some examples: R. and S. Kaplan documented the development of the sensation of tranquility and the availability of involvement, in addition to improving cognitive functions; R. Ulrich conducted studies on stress reduction in environments exposed to natural elements and on increasing attentional capacity; Mooney & Milstein spoke of the decrease in anxiety; Sempkin of the tendency to activate and develop group processes, promoting social cohesion and the increase of relational, interpersonal and communicative skills.

During the workshop we will talk about hortitherapy, deepening the theoretical and scientific basis, we will learn to design a garden accessible to people with disabilities and, through concrete examples, we will open a debate on the use of this approach in the fields of rehabilitation, education and job training for disadvantaged people.

Irene Pignatelli bio

class 1992, province of Milan. In 2014, after graduating in Neuropsychomotor Therapy, I leave for a solitary journey that led me to permaculture and different communities of Italy. Back in Milan, in 2015 I decided to apply to the university in  the field of horticulture, so I attend a course in Horticultural Therapy at the Agricultural School of Monza. In 2018 I obtained a diploma in Organic Agriculture at the Minoprio Foundation. In the years 2016-2018 I worked as an educator in educational farms and social cooperatives dealing with sustainability education, and since 2017 I have been following a horticultural therapy project with people in distress (disabilities and addictions) funded by The Rotary Foundation. I also hold environmental education workshops for children in collaboration with the Milan hinterland associations.