Horticultural Therapy is making an impact on people’s lives.
Read more about how it’s happening.
By: Rebecca Haller, HTM
The AHTA Credentialing work team has been working for several years now on steps towards creating a stronger credential for horticultural therapists. With long-term goals to develop competency testing and certification, the latest accomplishment is a published job task analysis. A more detailed update to the job analysis published in 1982, the current analysis describes the results of a survey of registered horticultural therapists and reflects job knowledge, skills, and abilities in the profession.
This is an important step to guide future training of HTs as well as the content of a competency exam. At the core, the results show a consistency in the HT profession over time, with a continued multi-disciplinary emphasis on horticulture, human science, and horticultural therapy skills. Published in the December 2014 issue of HortTechnology, a free summary, as well as a link to purchase the full article may be found at http://horttech.ashspublications.org.
By: Nellie Bhattarai, HTR
The therapeutic benefit of working with plants is undeniable. Humans have been using plants for cognitive, social, physical, and emotional purposes for millenniums, so it’s no surprise that in an age when people are drawn so intensely to indoor technology-based activities, that we continue to need the natural connection of people-plant interactions.
WAIT! What can we use to serve our populations when there is a foot of snow on the ground, the garden is empty, and all the plants outside look lifeless?!? Therapy is a continuous process, so horticultural therapists have to be creative in the winter to bring the experience with plants to our clients. These are plant-source ideas I have used in Pennsylvania to serve a population of teenage youth in the corrections system:
Propagation of indoor plants: Most ‘house plants’ are from tropical climates, and bring a welcome splash of green to indoor spaces. They also provide off-season growing materials to inspire those we’re working with. Some house plants can be propagated by vegetative cuttings, like snake plant. Others have adventitious roots that arise from the nodes of the parent plant and give a head-start in the growing process. Pothos, Christmas cactus, jade tree, and other succulents are some examples.
Spider plant is one of my favorites, having baby ‘spiders’ that can be separated from the drooping arms of the parent plant and placed directly in soil OR placed in water to watch the roots grow. Some plants, like aloe, silver squill, and amaryllis, grow young plants from the root base of the parent plant. This offers a good lesson in the importance of gentle handling, as we carefully separate the young plants from the parent plant. Most of the plant material I start with comes from plants we have in our home and/or from the horticulture department of a local university.
It’s important to share this part of the story! Where did this plant come from? Who shared these pieces that are allowing us to grow? I have found that it’s important to connect my kids to the recognition that someone else’s care and attention was given for their benefit. It’s a good reminder that our actions go beyond us to impact others, and show that we are all connected.
The off-season is a great season! With all of the plant materials in the above descriptions, I find that incorporating education opens a world of new ideas and understanding for the kids I serve. The more they learn and experience with plants, the larger their pool of helpful ideas grows, and the more likely that their future paths will look different than today. I hope some of the ideas I’ve shared here will help with your programming as you strive to educate and encourage others. In this season, be inspired to think green!
Nellie Bhattarai, HTR works on contract at Central Counties Youth Center and is a past graduate of HTI\
By: Loredana Farilla, MD
Transforming negative feelings and behaviors into positive and constructive ones is just one of the goals of the “Happy Dirty Feet” HT garden in Lakewood, Colorado. The Jefferson County Open School (JCOS, or Open School) provides a dynamic environment that fosters the development of the unique potential in each individual by nurturing and challenging the whole person. The curriculum emphasizes self-direction, learning through experience, shared responsibility, and the development of lifelong skills.
The JCOS school garden started developing in 2011 and thus opened a door to the living world by serving as an outdoor classroom. Inspired by Hazel Rah Farm in Lakewood, Colorado, the garden allowed a hands-on experience for students to learn about nature, science, and nutrition. The Open School recently expanded its educational mission in the garden to include the horticultural therapy program, “Happy Dirty Feet,” with the goal of promoting students’ physical and psychological wellbeing. A dedicated website is currently under development, and preliminary information can be found at: https://sites.google.com/site/jeffcoopengarden/home.
JCOS serves a total of 525 students from preK-12. Approximately 15% of the students are involved in an Individualized Education Program (IEP) to address challenges impeding their ability to learn. An additional 10% of students require some degree of assistance to facilitate learning skills (school program 504).
The JCOS horticultural therapy program is primarily intended to help these student populations thrive during their educational growth, but is open to all members of the school community. Students, staff, and families can all benefit from the direct contact with nature through active gardening activities as well as passive observation and appreciation of nature in the garden.
The “Happy Dirty Feet” program, in concert with the school’s curriculum and social and psychological support systems, is committed to improving the well-being of the school community. Through the integration of horticultural therapy activities, students’ learning, experiential interests and abilities will significantly improve alongside their psychological well-being and social integration. By strengthening the general physical and mental well-being of students, a foundation for behavioral health and emotional stability can be established and maintained.
The school garden is designed to simulate an outdoor learning lab environment. The boundaries of the garden plots are fenced with two-rail wood fencing. The entrance is a handmade gate built and painted by JCOS students. Nine 4’x8’ wood-framed raised garden beds are present on the south side of the garden. Smaller beds are to the north, and berry bushes and grape vines have been planted around the perimeter. Paths are in compliance with Federal ADA regulations. A 30’x12’hoop house is currently under construction by garden team members and volunteers from the school community.
Recently, JCOS was awarded a $13,900 grant from the Colorado Garden Foundation. These funds will be used for the construction of a geodesic dome greenhouse complete with an aquaponics system, scheduled to be built in the summer of 2015. The greenhouse will provide an outdoor educational space for horticultural therapy as well as the ability to grow food year-round for the school’s Garden-to-Cafeteria and Youth Farmer’s Market programs. In addition to the outdoor environment, an indoor HT area is being developed to create a dedicated therapeutic “Nature Corner” where horticultural therapy sessions can be performed year-round.
The concept of “Happy Dirty Feet” was born the moment I saw my daughter and her best friend taking their socks and shoes off during a hot summer day to walk barefoot in my home garden. I heard the sound of a magical laugh generated from that very special and unique contact between humans and the earth. I could almost hear Mother Earth laughing as well! At that very moment, I felt an indescribable emotion from watching the two little girls happily grounded and simply content. Right then, I made the decision to do all I could as a mother, a medical doctor, a horticultural therapist to expand that same sense of well-being to more and more children.
As my wonderful HT internship supervisor Carol LaRoque at the Mental Health Center of Denver often reminds me, it takes a village (or more than one) to make a difference, the JCOS horticultural therapy program wouldn’t have been possible without the incredible support from the entire school community. I simply shared with them all of the wonderful things that I learned from the Horticultural Therapy Institute.
The HT management class was so well design and implemented that by simply following the instructors’ directions, I was able to write a very well-received HT proposal and successful grant. For program sustainability, more grants are currently in progress as well as presentations to the community to increase interest and financial support. “Happy Dirty Feet” made its first baby steps in 2014 and is determined to grow stronger and happier. Future goals of the program include research collaborations with local universities, expanding the program to more schools within Jefferson County, and developing an intergenerational program between JCOS secondary students and local senior centers.
I am profoundly grateful to the Horticultural Therapy Institute, the Jefferson County Open School, and my HT internship site at the Mental Health Center of Denver. By providing me with opportunities, knowledge, and skills, I have strengthened my inspiration to help our younger generations to grow happier, stronger and healthier.
Loredana Farilla directs the HT program at the Jefferson County Open Space School and is a graduate of the HT Institute.
Three new beginning Fundamentals of Horticultural Therapy classes are scheduled for the fall with a new location in Kirtland, OH. The schedule is as follows:
Oct. 15-18, 2015
Herb Society of America
Oct. 29-Nov. 1, 2015
Anchor Center for Blind Children
Nov. 12-15, 2015
The remaining three classes in the certificate series will be held in 2016 in Colorado and North Carolina. Dates will be posted by May. Check out the website at www.htinstitute.org for more details or to enroll in a class.
Pam Catlin, HTR current HTI faculty will present: The Growing Difference…..The Power of Connecting Through Nature at the Northern Arizona Alzheimer’s Association Desert SW Chapter’s Conference on March 25.
By: Susan Morgan
Working with clients, researching and writing activity plans, doing paperwork and invoicing, marketing services, hunting and shopping for supplies, staying up-to-date on trends in the field…juggling the many hats of a horticultural therapy practitioner can be quite challenging, especially if you don’t have a network of people around for regular support. In response, I created eat|breathe|garden that houses information in one spot and also serves as a creative outlet for my photography and writing. (jump here)
The primary objective of eat|breathe|garden is to connect people with the natural world through the sharing of activity ideas and recipes, interesting publications and links, anecdotes from personal experience, inspiring quotes and other tidbits, and other information relevant to practitioners and others seeking to connect with nature. Through weekly posts, it is my hope to share activity ideas and how I deliver them for clients, talk about my personal experiences as a private therapeutic horticulture practitioner, and host guest bloggers who present their own ideas and experiences. The tone of this blog is intended to be informative yet lighthearted and interjected with humor.
Like the work that we do, eat|breathe|garden is a dynamic and fluid project and will evolve in response to personal whims and the (supportive) feedback I receive from others. Though it has been up and running since the fall, I am still playing with the layout and building content, and I seek and welcome your constructive input as it develops. What burning questions do you have? What kind of information are you looking for? Would you be willing to contribute as a guest blogger or a sharer of interesting information? Please check it out at www.eatbreathegarden.com.
Susan is the owner and therapeutic horticulture practitioner at The Horticultural Link (www.thehorticulturallink.com) in Dallas. She is the 2014 recipient of the AHTA Alice Burlingame Humanitarian Award. Contact her at [email protected]
View the recording of a recent live webinar:
Topic: Entering the Profession of Horticultural Therapy
You will learn:
Credits available through