Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Composting and Horticulture Therapy at LifeBridge Health

Two LifeBridge Health facilities are encouraging residents to get their hands dirty - and help the environment.

Levindale Hebrew Geriatric Center and Hospital and Courtland Gardens Nursing & Rehabilitation Center began receiving compost to use in therapeutic patient activities in May. Dee McGuire, Levindale horticultural therapist, and Jamilah Bashir, therapeutic recreation manager at Courtland, each got a truckload of compost from Envirelation, the company that manages LifeBridge's food waste.

LifeBridge composted more than 100 tons of organic waste from food prep and patient trays in 2009. Composting allows minerals and nutrients to be recycled from food and plant waste and the material biodegrades, rather than being trapped in a landfill, which is designed to prevent leaching and decomposition.

"We've done it a few times with the residents and it appears to be going well," Bashir says. "Horticulture therapy provides relaxation and gives them a chance to put their hands into the soil."

Horticultural therapy is recognized as a practical and viable treatment with wide-ranging benefits for people in therapeutic, vocational, and wellness programs. Dee and Jamilah are excited to see what blooms out of this new project!

Are you interested in composting in your own backyard? The University of Illinois has some helpful tips here. Gardening can be a great outdoors activity, and growing your own vegetables is both rewarding and a way to eat healthy.

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