Banana Harvest from Nature Seychelles demonstration organic garden
Seychelles NATION; June 9 2017: Horticulture is the growing of flowers, fruits, vegetables and plants and according to the American Horticultural Therapy Association (AHTA), the process of using plants and garden environments has been found to be therapeutic and to promote mental, physical and social health.
Plants are unique in that they can exploit the energy from the sun and convert it into their tissues together with water and nutrients in the soil. For this, they need plenty of sunlight, humidity and ideal soil type. The climate in Seychelles is particularly favourable for gardening – the warm, sunny and humid year-round weather provides us with all the prerequisites to make gardening relatively simple since weather extremes are rare.
Nature Seychelles, a leading environment organisation in the region with its head quarters at at The Sanctuary, Roche Caiman, makes use of these excellent conditions through their Nature Therapy Programme which aims to encourage people to connect with nature. The programme provides various groups of people with both mental and physical skills to help increase their self-esteem and confidence, encourage personal development, teach respect for the environment and develop social skills.
On a visit to the garden which is open from 8:30am to 4.00pm, the Communications Manager, Jedida explained that the Heritage Garden is a demonstration organic garden open to locals as well as foreigners. This includes groups like students, healthcare organisations as well as individuals visiting the site for various educational, wellness and personal activities.
Anyone is welcome to come and learn about gardening, various types of plants, how to make organic compost, volunteer or simply visit for a walk and some fresh air. Lavelu, the Head Gardener has studied Horticulture and is happy to share his vast knowledge and skills. You may also be interested to know that they sell seedlings for various plants upon availability which you can take home and practice your gardening skills on!
Black chilli growing at the Heritage (organic) Garden
While on a tour of the garden with Lavelu, he pointed out many different plants which he can show you how to grow and maintain. Amongst many others, there was lettuce, spring onions, coriander, rocket, cucumber, parsley, dill, chilli, spinach, aloe vera, parsley, lime, star fruit, custard apple, passion fruit, lemongrass, ginger, potato, yam, bananas, Chinese cabbage, tomatoes, mint and a number of medicinal plants. If not for gardening, it is still worth a visit to buy some fresh, organic, local produce to help build up our immune systems.
Nature Seychelles has also implemented many projects aimed at specific issues. The ‘Garden For Growth’ project for example, aims to help combat social problems like substance abuse by teaching participants various techniques like building raised beds out of roofing sheets, planting and growing various crops. One past project for children was aimed at helping them to be more resilient to societal pressures such as premature sex. Activities for the kids included stripping bark off Casuarina poles for protection against termites, turning over organic compost and potting seedlings.
Gardening techniques are suitable for people of all ages and special needs, hence everyone can benefit in some way or another from this activity. The added advantage is that gardening can be explored alone for solitude or with family/friends for companionship and bonding. Essentially, gardening can help to bring joy to children, discipline teenagers, create a sense of calm for parents and purpose for the elderly.