Human Issues in Horticulture

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The term horticulture is often defined as the science and art of growing fruits, vegetables, flowers or ornamental plants. It is reseached and discussed at length within the context of horticulture as a science and technology focused on the role of horticulture in crop production (Tigchelaar and Foley, 1991). However it is critical that we look at the other side of horticulture — the art of horticulture, and the role it plays in human well-being.

Going to the dictionary, we see that horticulture is derived from the root words Hortus, a garden, and cultura for which the dictionary refers us to the word culture. Under culture we find: cultivation of the soil; the development, improvement or refinement of the mind, emotions, interests, manners, tastes, etc.; the ideas, customs, skills, arts, etc. of a given people in a given period; civilization. In light of research conducted over the last 20 years, primarily through the support of the USDA Forest Service, we see that in limiting the definition of horticulture to a combination of `a garden’ with `the cultivation of the soil,’ we have limited severely the understanding of what horticulture means in terms of human well-being. In effect, we have put blinders on the study and application of horticulture for human life quality. It is the purpose of this chapter to explore the implications of combining hortus with the other definitions of culture…