MUSC Urban Farm provides horticultural therapy and community engagement – Charleston City Paper | Directory Mayhem

Ten years ago, a thriving two-acre urban farm replaced a paved parking lot at Bee Street and President Street. Now, despite hurricanes, frequent flooding and a recent pandemic, the Urban Farm at the Medical University of South Carolina continues to thrive.

Noni Langford, who has been on and off Urban Farm since its debut in 2012, was recently promoted to co-manager and works alongside Robin Smith. The two maintain the property, and Langford offers horticultural therapy, a form of therapy that engages patients in gardening and plant-based activities. The process of harvesting and tending to various flowers, fruits, and vegetables can help patients focus their attention elsewhere and provide a sense of control through repetitive movements such as digging.

The farm provides opportunities and benefits for the surrounding communities and the hospital’s patients through various workshops, volunteerism, funding, horticultural therapy, outreach and events, Langdon said.

The garden currently grows more than 65 varieties of flowers, fruits, vegetables and herbs used for nutritional and sensory therapies. The raised beds are used to grow and harvest foods such as chives, okra, mint, basil and more. Herbs like lavender can be used for sensory therapy, according to Langford; It is soft to the touch and is a gentle stimulator for those prone to overstimulation. Although the garden specializes in plants native to the Southeast, such as cabbage or okra, Langford said they are open to planting other non-native fruits for the inclusion of students and volunteers. For example, one patient requested that bitter melon, a fruit popular in Asia, be planted as a reminder of home.

The farm’s ultimate mission is to “help people make that connection between their own health and healthy eating,” Langford said. “We’re also here to offer people a quiet space where they can be outside and connect with nature in a controlled environment.”

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