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Hultgren Department of Education Policy and Leadership This study explores what the lived experience of gardening is like for older, community-dwelling gardeners as it is uncovered through conversations, garden visits, and written notes from seven older gardeners.
Over a two-year sequence, multiple indepth individual conversations at the homes of the co-researcher participants unearth themes reflective of their gardening lives. Drawn forward by the methodology of hermeneutic phenomenology, the rich text of our dialogue mingles like compost and becomes something newly created that shows their passion for interacting with plants and living habitats.
Using the existentials of lived place, lived body, lived time and lived relation we dig into how gardening is lived. Home and volunteer places for gardening keep these older adults curious and creatively engaged—characteristics of healthy agers.
Their worn body parts go unnoticed in the presence of beauty they co-create, suggesting knowing the Earth through the senses is a source of tranquility and wakefulness that brings a renewed appreciation for the wonder of nearby nature. Autobiographical stories of sustained volunteerism, land trusts, and conservancies for future generations reveal their caring for the planet and spiritual aspects of this physical activity, which they love.
Reaching out beyond their gardens to share their bounty and wisdom about their relationship with living earth, the gardeners model a vision of respect for the planet and an ecological consciousness.
Witnessing nearby nature, they blossom in the Fall of their lives.
As a community health professional, my task is to educate and raise awareness about nature for human health and well-being; thereby building on current initiatives to foster accessible nearby nature. The study also sheds light on the value of environmental activism through autobiographical notions.
In supporting a gardening life for older gardeners, we advocate the importance of interacting with nearby nature that we long to preserve. Our planet needs more earth keepers like these to bring us back into balance.
Life happened along with the dissertation, often unpredictable but unforgettable, too. Because I love my family I slowed the pace: Happily, the research now brings me further into a life of service and community. The doors have been opened to teaching as learning and a message of the significance of gardening and nearby nature has been brought into the lives of older adults and our communities.
Those of you who support my work have my sincere, heartfelt thanks. I thank my parents for being wonderful teachers. Their love and support endures through all seasons. Like the committee members and Dr. Francine Hultgren who encouraged me in this research endeavor, my parents, friends and family comprise the wire frame that holds the living wreath I began for the proposal meeting.
I thank my committee for who they are. My first volunteer committee member, Dr. Kathryn Kavanagh, continues to be a centering force, a compass pointing to interpretive research and hermeneutics. A true mentor, she is scholarship as lived.
I also am grateful to have Dr. Diane Heliker, who holds open the promise of future collaboration with her expertise. She knows what this dimension of gardening as nearby nature can bring to human health and well-being.
We speak the same. Charles Flatter for new insights so others see the importance of the study.
I also thank Dr. Jing Lin, who teaches me to broaden my thinking and see natural elements are energy. With her suggestions, I enter into foreign lands that enchant and delight the senses.
The plants in the living wreath are varied and bring life to the research. These individuals are the soul of the wreath. They are my co-researchers, my conversants who open their hearts and share their lives in and out of the gardens they inhabit.
Their stories are planted in me and are the reason the research was able to grow and flower. The bits and pieces of moss and composted dirt that sustain the plants and the entire wreath, for that matter, create an environment that feeds each person in it.
First, I appreciate the rich fertilizer that is the Hermes Circle. Writing helps each of us thrive in our friendship and scholarship with colleagues at the Society for Phenomenology of the Human Sciences. We blossom and carry our work forward from Phenomenology classes with Dr.It can be a religious, social, volunteer or sport related activity.
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