Making Connections Editor: Christine Capra,
Program Manager, HT Institute

2016 Winter Newsletter

Horticultural Therapy is making an impact on people’s lives.
Read more about how it’s happening:

HTI Director’s Note: Inspiring Reading for HT Practice

By: Rebecca Haller, HTM

rhaller (1)

Looking for some enjoyable winter reading to inspire and perhaps inform your work in HT? Here are some books that address the need for nature in our lives, and the importance and effects of a positive and regular connection with the natural world. Curl up, enjoy, bring nature indoors during the cold months, and also get outside!

Barlett, Peggy. Urban Place: Reconnecting with the Natural World
Kellert, Stephen. Birthright: People and Nature in the Modern World
Louv, Richard. Last Child in the Woods: Saving Our Children from Nature-Deficit Disorder
Louv, Richard. The Nature Principle
Selhub, Eva. Your Brain on Nature: The Science of Nature’s Influence on Your Health, Happiness and Vitality

Horticultural Therapy Tips for Practice: Making a Garden Kid-Powered

By Amy Nau, HTI student

Amy Nau in the garden

Amy Nau in the garden

Tucked away behind our K-8 school campus, the Dreamkeeper Garden sits an acre large with many varieties of plant and animal life. Home to goats, chickens, rabbits and a salvage garden where life grows from unwanted tires and bathtubs, this is not your typical school yard garden. On campus a full production row garden growing annual vegetables,an herb garden filled with sensory experiences, and a butterfly garden where observations of metamorphosis occur year round, weekly horticultural therapy sessions are conducted. The school has over 850 students, and participants in HT are selected based on individual needs and goals based off of IEPs (Individual Education Plans).

With a wide range of needs from social and emotional development to physical exceptionalities, autism and other developmental needs, students are grouped by need into small groups of 1-7 students. After teaching in the Dreamkeeper garden the last five years, piloting a horticultural therapy was a dream come true. Below are some tips and tricks learned along the way. From garden educator to horticultural therapist, these tips can help anyone using the garden as a teaching, therapeutic or recreational space with children.

Amy Nau in the garden

1. Transitioning through the garden can be a challenge. There is so much to look at, smell, touch and taste along the way! You may be working in a space that serves a large amount of students, and people in the garden are often our biggest distractors! Using songs, rhythms, beats and noises to help keep students focused while walking on the pathway can be a great way to move swiftly through the garden to get to where you are going! Another helpful transition tip, especially for working with young students (K-3), walk like animals, fly like a butterfly, or buzz like a busy bee to your spot in the garden. Keep the transitions fun and use every moment as a learning opportunity! Lastly, try transitioning with a task in mind. “Count as many red flowers as you can while we walk”, or “Count how many animals you see along the way”.

Amy Nau (2)2. Making your garden space as ‘kid-powered’ as possible, allows for students to take ownership of the space. Dedicate specific areas to being maintained, give specific leadership roles or jobs to help students ‘own’ the space.
3. Get Moving! Most of our therapeutic moments happen while we are working, digging, weeding, or planting. In a school setting, so much of the day is spent sitting in desks, and kids need to move! Trying to talk about what happened while sitting out in a garden, where life is moving all around you, can be especially challenging for young students. Get moving, and you’ll be surprised how much deeper you can take the session.
4. Some tips for tasting in the garden: Teach students to keep their hands at their belly to avoid reaching or grabbing. Guide students through tasting by first touching, smelling, and of course, modeling! Don’t forget to celebrate the ‘risk’ and bravery of tasting!

amy (3)5. Teach garden skills before beginning therapeutic sessions. Teach how to harvest, use tools, planting seeds, and transplanting. Once they have the basic skills under control, you’re therapeutic sessions will flow smoothly.
6. Lastly, the best thing a horticultural therapist can do is anticipate ‘what might happen’ and get ahead of it! Give proactive directions, make directions clear and simple to follow, and most importantly, know the students you’re working with and what triggers behaviors.

Amy Nau is the Horticulltural Therapist and Academic Integration
Coordinator at Edible Schoolyard in New Orleans, LA. She is a current student at the HT Institute

HTI Program Profile: Three Groups; One Day; Multiple Abilities; All in the Garden…

By Anna Terceira

Bermuda (5)A garden will not get very far if all you know are the things you aren’t able to do in it.

WindReach is a fully accessible 3.7-acre site located in Warwick, Bermuda serving people with a wide range of physical and intellectual disabilities. At WindReach we have made it our mission to enrich the quality of lives of people with special needs. WindReach offers programs and activities providing educational, therapeutic and recreational opportunities. The gardens at WindReach have been sponsored for over two years by Chubb (formerly known as ACE).
Every Thursday at WindReach, we have three very different groups that work together to help keep the gardens growing. Even though each group comes at a different time of day, we all work to complete tasks that are set up by the previous group, or that will help the next group – all focusing on the participant’s strengths and the garden needs.

Bermuda (2)GROUP 1
This is the morning group, and currently consists of myself; the HT facilitator at WindReach, and two other women. This is the smallest group, but has turned into one of the best planning and prep groups I have worked with. We start the one-hour session by observing the gardens and looking at what needs to be done.
It is with this group that we will get our knees dirty, transplanting seedlings or harvesting sweet potatoes, or even shoveling dry soil before the rain comes so that the next two groups don’t have to fill pots with mud. Group 1 is the group that will help harvest for the other groups to clean and take home, transplant seedlings that the other groups planted, or help with the heavy lifting so that Group 3 can sit comfortably indoors for their session.

This is a wellness group, and a lot of emphasis is on creating positive social interactions. We help promote independence in the gardens with hope that the skills learned can cross over into their homes. When asked what they enjoy about our Thursday morning sessions, one of the participants said that she loves our conversations in the gardens and learning about anything natural. The other participant explained how it reminds her of her older family members, and how they tell stories about gardening.

Bermuda (3)GROUP 2
Group 2 is a student group of four young adults, and the garden tasks must tie into their Individual Education Plans. The para-educators and classroom teacher accompany this group. I work to set everything up and give instructions for the first half hour of the session and then leave them to complete the task for the remaining half hour. This group of students have some of the most profound special needs and require one on one assistance. For Group 2, I need to make sure we have a specific plan where each student can take part.
One of the great things about this group, is that the teachers work with the students throughout the week, so they are able to incorporate each student’s goals into the session; whether the goals are to improve fine motor skills, increase vocabulary or being able to follow instruction. Students are able to grow food to take home to their families, and have experiences that would normally not happen at school, home, or the hospital. We are promoting sensory nourishment in each session with tasks that require using our hands to scoop up the soil, or twisting the crunchy black eyed pea pods to get the peas out. One student was able to harvest carrots for the first time from a large raised pot and helped design a garden plan that was then implemented by volunteers.

Tasks for Group 2 normally consist of planting seeds, filling pots with soil, emptying out old pots, mixing soil, harvesting, and weeding. Group 2 also helps prep for Group 1 and Group 3; for example they will fill separate buckets of soil for Group 3 to plant with, or plant seeds for Group 1 to transplant.

Bermuda (6)GROUP 3
‘Not today sweetie! I ain’t getting buried today!’ – she joked with me when a small amount of soil spilt over onto her dress. This is just one of the many reminders I get from my last group of the day. This is my largest group and is for elders only which includes those living with dementia. Group 3 prefers to have our garden sessions inside, so I must plan for everything to happen in the lower hall. Group 3 has the most garden experience, with some of the elders knowing what is in season, and more importantly how to cook it! It is this generation that grew up on farms, married farmers, or cooked the best paw paw casserole on the island.

Some of our tasks consist of sticking our hands into unusual gourd varieties and pulling out the pulp to save the seeds, propagating succulents, planting seeds, washing what was harvested by Group 1 and Group 2, or even taking a stroll/roll through the gardens and admiring the crops that were mostly started by them and then transplanted by Group 1.
Bermuda (4)Group 3 is also a wellness group, and at 2:30pm on a Thursday, don’t be surprised to hear us singing the oldie goldies while drinking freshly made hibiscus, ginger, and orange tea.
The garden sessions at WindReach provide the elders with a reason to get out of their homes and have something to look forward to. It is a fantastic social group, as participants will come from their family home, or different nursing homes across the island. When asked why they enjoy coming to the garden sessions, one of women said that she enjoys learning about growing food, and what to plant in the different seasons. One of the men said that he likes getting his hands in the soil and getting down to earth.

In conclusion, this article is to show us that no matter how different individuals and groups may be, there is always a place in the garden where growing will happen in both plants and humans. Group sessions do not have to be so separate from each other; you can have your groups working together for much larger goals in the gardens.
Anna Terceira is the ??? at WindReach in Bermuda and a past graduate of the HT Institute.

 Fundamentals of HT 2016 Classes Announced

P1100177Learn how to combine a passion for gardening and helping people through the innovative field of horticultural therapy (HT) at one of the next Fundamentals of Horticultural Therapy classes held in three different locations this fall. The series remains in Colorado and heads back to California along with a new site for Fundamentals at the University of Wisconsin in Madison.

The course will introduce the profession and practice of horticultural therapy, which uses gardening activities in community gardens, children’s gardens, health care and human service programs to name a few. The course describes the types of programs utilizing HT as well as the cognitive, social, emotional and physical goals for the varied people served. It also exposes students to resources for further exploration and to professionals in the field. This course and the remaining three certificate courses are accredited by the American Horticultural Therapy Association as well as fulfill the credit hours required for professional registration. Academic credit is available through HTI partner, Colorado State University.

One of the unique advantages to HTI’s certificate program is the opportunity for students from around the country to attend classes in sites that showcase horticultural therapy services in a variety of settings. With its unique format, you don’t need to live where the classes are held and the format accommodates those who must travel to attend. Fundamentals of HT class cost is $800 or $650 for full-time college students. For more information go to, call 303-388-0500 or email [email protected]

October 13-16, 2016
Anchor Center for Blind Children
Denver, Colorado
Deadline for enrollment: Sept. 13, 2016

November 3-6, 2016
University of Wisconsin
Madison, Wisconsin
Deadline for enrollment: Oct. 3, 2016

November 17-20 2016
Elkus Ranch
Half Moon Bay, California
Deadline for enrollment: Oct. 17, 2016

Congratulations to HTI Graduates Earning Credentials:

In Their Own Words:

Lynn Watnik, HTR, Pittsford, New York

I work for a not for profit agency that serves individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities in upstate New York. Within that agency, I lead a weekly session within a day program for adults with IDD and dementia of varying stages, as well as those who are medically frail. As well, I lead program at a community center that serves the IDD population as well as the general community. I have a contract position at a day program that serves HIV positive adults at risk.

Laura Rumpf, HTR, Upper Marlborough MD & Seattle, WA

Last Spring, Barbara Van Lear and I shared an HT program that I started at a residence for six individuals with physical & intellectual disabilities.We went from having a healthy budget, to none at all after only 3 months. However, it was very educational for myself and Barbara to implement what we learned at HTI in terms of creating objectives/goals, use adaptive tools and create activities to meet very challenging needs.

Laura working with a client using a modified trowel (with arm brace). It was a very rewarding activity for her as she only had the use of one arm/hand. It made her feel really productive and she wouldn't want to quit!

Laura working with a client using a modified trowel (with arm brace). It was a very rewarding activity for her as she only had the use of one arm/hand. It made her feel really productive and she wouldn’t want to quit!

Since September, I have been the Interim Director of the HT Program at Melwood Horticulture Training Center in Upper Marlborough, MD. Sadly, Sheila Gallagher who was the previous director and my internship supervisor and mentor passed away suddenly in July. I was asked to step in to keep the HT activities going and to provide continuity until a permanent replacement could be hired. Our HT program is a vocational and social wellness program for about 30 adults with intellectual disabilities. These individuals are with us at the garden center every day for 5hrs and there is a staff of 8 people. This experience has been very challenging, enlightening, educational, and rewarding. I have since moved to Seattle.

Catherine Crowder, HTR, Greensboro, NC


Crowder (3)Catherine Crowder, an HTI graduate and recent HTR recipient is working with dementia patients and is providing HT programming for The Healing Gardens at Wesley Long and Cone Health. The gardens opened in June of this year and the first HT program was in October. Survivors planted Hope Pots – layered containers with daffodil and grape hyacinths bulbs and pansies. The bulbs symbolize the hope of new beginnings, after a period of cold and dark a beautiful flower emerges.

One of Catherine’s favorite HT moments was during a program at Spring Arbor, a memory care facility. The theme of the day was a sensory tour of Catherine’s backyard. Herbs and flowers were passed around discussing different smells and textures. When daisies were handed out, a small voice started singing Daisy, Diasy I’m in love with you… the room feel silent and soon everyone was singing.

“Moments like that make this journey so rewarding.”

Jefferson County Open School Receives a Second Garden Grant

Loredana Farilla, HTI graduate from Colorado

Jefferson County Open School is a pK-12 public school that in 2014 opened its doors to the horticultural therapy program “Happy Dirty Feet”. The mission of the school is to encourage self-directed and experiential learning and to promote academic development as well as personal and social growth. The JCOS garden was first established in 2011 by a handful of volunteer parents, staff, and students, and it is in continuous evolution and expansion. My role as a horticultural therapist is intertwined with the school psychologist and social worker to utilize intervention to enhance our students’ health, wellbeing, and emotional, social and cognitive growth.

Hopefully our seeds will continue to grow strong, leading in the near future to the creation of a full-time HT position. In November of 2014, JCOS was granted $13,900 from the Colorado Garden Foundation which has been invested in a geodesic dome greenhouse. A greenhouse-building class has been created to involve students in the planning and building processes, making the project a valuable learning experience.

Additionally, this project will establish a sense of ownership for the students with the associated sense of responsibility for the care and maintenance of their dome. In November of 2015, JCOS was awarded a second grant from the Colorado Garden Foundation for $15,000 that will be invested for the completion of the interior space of the geodesic dome greenhouse and the installation of indoor vertical gardens.

Healthy nutrition is imperative for growing minds and bodies, and my goal is to improve the students’ eating habits by having them plant their own healthy food and discover the exquisite taste of a fresh salad during the winter months. Nearly 40% of the student body belongs to low income families for whom healthy foods are oftentimes too expensive for everyday meals, remaining just a dream. Together with my students, I want to make this dream a reality and invite families to take home freshly and organically-grown greens all year round. As a former physician, I have no doubt that the best way to implement health care is by preventing diseases.

I replace my white coat and stethoscope with gardening boots and shovels, and instead of prescribing drugs to treat depression, anxiety, hunger, and obesity, I chose to prescribe daily doses of Nature for a lifelong treatment. Thank you, Colorado Garden Foundation, for helping JCOS build its Nature-based clinic and learning center.


View the recording of a recent live webinar:

Topic: Entering the Profession of Horticultural Therapy

You will learn:

  • What is horticultural therapy?
  • Where is it practiced?
  • Who does it serve?
  • How can you receive training?

View the webinar here


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