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Wilmien Brascamp

Research on human issues in horticulture focuses on the human dimension of horticulture in an effort to maximize the benefits of plants and nature in general, for human well-being. A key issue is the need for scientific evidence of such benefits and for rigorous research methods to reveal the mechanics of the interaction between people and plants. Conjoint analysis, a methodology with obvious potential for successful application in the area of human issues in horticulture, is widely used in consumer research to estimate the structure of people's reactions to multi-attribute objects or services. This paper discusses the steps involved in implementing conjoint analysis and describes how it can be applied to people–plant research.

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Hye Ran Kwack and Paula Diane Relf

As the level of urbanization has increased, many people in Korea have begun to recognize the beneficial effects of plants in our immediate surroundings and involvement in horticultural activities. Today, an increasing number of Koreans attempt to improve the quality of life and enhance educational effectiveness through horticultural activities. Kindergarten, elementary, middle, and high schools have initiated garden-based programs. Some universities include courses focusing on horticulture applications to human well-being in their regular graduate programs or in their social education curricula. A few general hospitals, psychiatric hospitals, and rehabilitation centers have begun applying horticulture as a means of treatment. Most of the research articles in Korea on various aspects of human issues in horticulture have been published since the foundation of two academic societies, the Korean Horticultural Therapy Association and the Korean Society for Plants, People, and Environment. These articles are primarily focused on the areas of school gardening, healing gardens, and psychological or physiological effects of horticultural activities. For the future development of human issues in horticulture in Korea, several areas need to be enhanced including: interdisciplinary studies of horticulture and social education; development of different skills, techniques,and scales to validate the effects of horticultural therapy, healing gardens, and gardening as a teaching tool in public education; and an organization empowered to certify horticultural therapists.

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Virginia I. Lohr

Many undergraduates major in horticulture because they love working with plants. When they hear research that documents how people respond-to plants, some students -begin to understand why they have responded positively to plants, and they want to learn more about the topic. This paper 1) discusses the potential to use students' excitement about human issues in horticulture to teach principles that educators consider important components of a baccalaureate degree, and 2) presents the case of one student to demonstrate how it can be done.

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Candice A. Shoemaker, Paula Diane Relf and Virginia I. Lohr

Many of the research questions that have been posed regarding the effects of plants on people can only be answered using methodologies from the social sciences. Lack of familiarity with these methods and their underlying concepts has limited the role that horticulturists have taken in this research. Horticulturists, because of their particular sensitivity to the various aspects of plants and the nature of the ways that people interact with plants, must be involved in this type of research to generate the information that is needed by horticultural industries. This paper reviews many of the common methods that have been used in research on human issues in horticulture and presents examples of studies that have been conducted using these techniques. Quantitative and qualitative methods are discussed.

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Paula Diane Relf and Virginia I. Lohr

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Diane Relf

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Aino-Maija Evers, Leena Lindén and Erja Rappe

Approaches using human issues in horticulture (HIH) offer new possibilities to develop nearby nature in cities, especially during a period of rapid urbanization in Finland. New initiatives have been developed in school gardening, environmental education, gardening in training programs for disabled people, therapeutic environments in hospitals and institutions, and in the University of Helsinki horticultural education and research programs. At the University of Helsinki, two contact teaching courses and national seminars were organized in 1996 and 1998. Initial studies in the HIH approach have three main themes: 1) gardening as a tool for better quality of life in homes for the elderly, 2) ecology, native plants and extensive maintenance in parks, and 3) the use of horticulture in environment and science education at the lower level of the comprehensive school.

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Virginia Lohr and Diane Relf

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Virginia I. Lohr and Paula Diane Relf

Throughout history, plants have been used to benefit people. In the United States, formal research to document the impacts of plants on people was not published until the 1970s, when papers from social and medical scientists began to appear. In the 1990s, symposia, including the first on “The Role of Horticulture in Human Well-being and Social Development,” brought people together from around the world to share and expand their knowledge in this emerging field. Symposium participants have included researchers in the social sciences and plant sciences, practitioners in horticultural therapy, teachers in colleges and public gardens, industry representatives applying the knowledge, and more. This has formed the basis for current activities in research, teaching, and practice throughout the United States. Examples from research that now documents a variety of beneficial impacts of plants on people are discussed.

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P. Diane Relf and R. Peter Madsen

Developing the Interdisciplinary Research Team of the Office of Consumer Horticulture has proven to be very effective at Virginia Tech. Established with the support of the Director of the Agricultural Research Station and the Dean of Research, the initial team was gathered based on their diverse fields and a common “interest” in plants. This core group consisted of three horticulturists, a landscape architect, a psychologist, a sociologist, and an Extension administrator. A campus-wide promotional mailing brought several new members. Members were also invited to join based on their human-factors research activities as reported in campus media. There are currently 19 members; they have actively pursued cooperative research projects to keep costs at a minimum. Members have conducted a 100-participant campus workshop as well as the national symposium, “The Role of Horticulture in Human Well-Being and Social Development,” and are currently working on ten research projects which will help develop methods and data valuable for learning about the effects of horticulture on human life quality.