Researchers in Finland think that horticultural interventions can bring children closer to nature.
The study compares urban and rural children”s relationships with plants and recommends horticultural interventions, especially for urban children.
In Finland, a country famous for its forests and wilderness, researchers Taina Laaksoharju from the Department of Agricultural Sciences at the University of Helsinki and Erja Rappe of The Martha Association teamed up to investigate the role of vegetation in the lives of urban and rural children. “We were interested in finding out if it is true that children are not interested in plants or playing outdoors”, they noted.
The study examined the relationships of 9- and 10-year-old Finnish school children to the environment and plants. Using a questionnaire of structured and open-ended questions, the researchers focused on two comparisons: children”s relationships with nature in rural and urban neighborhoods, and preferences for plants among boys and girls. 76 children—42 in the Helsinki suburb area and 34 in a rural area—participated in the study.
Results suggested that children living in rural surroundings had closer contact with nature than their urban counterparts. The researchers noted that, like children in other Western countries, Finnish children may be in danger of losing direct contact with the natural environment.
“This suggests that further research is essential to understand children”s experiences if we are to enhance the crucial role of the environment in their lives”, the authors wrote.
“Horticultural interventions can be effective starting points to add to children”s knowledge, affection, and interest toward greenery, but it is highly recommended that they take place outdoors rather than indoors,” said Laaksoharju and Rappe.
The study is published in HortTechnology.