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

Fall 2012 Newsletter

Linking People and Plants

HTI Director’s Note: Changes to AHTA Professional Standards

Rebecca Haller, HTI Director

Rebecca Haller, Director HTIIn case you missed it, please be aware of recent changes by AHTA!

If you are pursuing HTR status, two important stasndards have been adopted by the AHTA board recently – one affecting future internships and one revising the required course topic areas. Briefly, here are the changes.

For anyone beginning an internship after June 1, 2013, new standards will be in effect. These standards include an educational requirement and stricter guidelines to be followed. These educational requirements are needed for completion of HT coursework prior to beginning an internship experience. Details are outlined in the new AHTA Internship Handbook. See for the handbook. Be sure you are looking at the latest version. (It is under “Education/Internships” as of this writing.)

Effective October 1, 2013, professional registration applicants who do not have a degree in HT must have completed specified topic areas. Courses will be much more specific than the current standards, and many previously allowed topics may no longer work for your application. Please follow the new standards in choosing courses in which to enroll, and carefully compare your transcripts with the new standards prior to application for HTR. Again, check out the details at (Look under “professional registration”.)

For those of you enrolled in HTI courses, we will discuss the current and newest standards in upcoming classes, but don’t wait until then to read about the changes.

Rebecca is the director and lead instructor of the HT Institute

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HTI Program Profile: Anchor Center for Blind Children, Denver Colorado

Christine Kramer, Program Manager, HT Institute

Anchor Center for Blind ChildrenFor 30 years the Anchor Center for Blind Children in Denver has served as a model for making a difference in the lives of infants and toddlers.  For many years, Rebecca Haller, HTM has had a connection with staff and students at Anchor Center, so it’s no wonder that holding the beginning HTI certificate class takes place at this innovative institution.  Fundamentals of HT will be held at the center Nov. 1-4, 2012, and will highlight their HT program. Students in this class will also take a field trip to the renowned Craig Rehabilitation Hospital. There students will hear from Susie Hall, HTR and tour their garden as well.

At the Anchor Center students will meet Angela Vanderlan, a past HTI student and an OT Aide, who works with infants and toddlers on sensory exploration, as well as managing the greenhouse and garden space at the center.
She explained that she’s part of an interdisciplinary team (teachers of the visually impaired, therapists, and teaching assistants) that provide services for children and families.  Gardening is one of the “centers” included in the preschoolers’ routine.  “The multi-sensory learning experience that exploring garden spaces provides fits right in with how children at Anchor Center learn. Planning and directing the centers and working with the kids is a joy!” said Vanderlan.

Anchor Center for Blind Children“To see the kid’s curiosity exploring nature, willingness to feel various textures, taste freshly picked tomatoes, and bob the giant heads of sunflowers that they planted from seed is truly rewarding!  With HT activities being a part of the routine, kids are experiencing the seasons and feeling the garden space that is theirs to explore,” she explained.

Now that HT is integrated into the routine of the children’s day, other teachers are using the garden as well. For instance they may pair up with Vanderlan to help the children navigate the garden space and pick tomatoes to carry back to the kitchen and make salsa. All of this helps the children work on the goals set out for their advancement towards more independence. She said that working on goals is an “art”, as participation is invited and hand under hand guidance often assists in exploration or teaching a new skill. This is seen in the skill of holding a watering can. After much repetition, the students never seem to tire of helping care for the plants.

“Families and children’s lives are enriched by sharing a common experience exploring the gardens.  Parents see their child tolerating the environment and then building on skills that may be enjoyed for years to come,” said Vanderlan.
This is clearly illustrated, she said, when one of Anchor’s preschoolers moved on to kindergarten.  The girl asked her new principal if there was a garden at the school.  She told her they should have one because you can learn everything there.

For more information or to enroll in the Fundamentals of HT class visit:  In addition to the Denver class, a final Fundamentals class will be offered at Elkus Ranch in Half Moon Bay, CA Dec. 6-9, 2012 to kick off a new full certificate series in the San Francisco Bay area. (see article by past HTI student Heather Benson in this newsletter. Benson will be a guest speaker at the Elkus Ranch class.)

Christine Kramer is the newsletter editor and program manager at HTI

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Horticultural Therapy Program Tip: Seed Globes

Heather Benson

Holding Seed GlobesSaving and storing seeds from your own plants is a time-honored practice of gardeners the world around.  There are many techniques to ensure their safety and viability until planting day. But, how does one save and plant the tiniest of seeds? You know the ones – lettuce, daisies, poppy, and carrot seeds.  These seeds slip through your fingers and blow away in the wind before you can get them into the soil or an envelope.  How can you keep them from getting lost? This tip will allow you to preserve them, carry them in your pocket AND make them much easier to plant!

As a teacher and horticultural therapist working in a school garden, I make a point to let some flowering plants and veggies go to seed so we can save them for planting later.  My students love to pop the dried ‘Scarlet Runner’ beans out of their pods and plant them immediately. We save the rest, label them and store them in our garden closet.  The bean seeds are relatively easy to grasp, pinched between fingers and thumbs.  But handling the smaller seeds of radish, nigella and chamomile is nearly impossible.

And even if most of the seeds make it into paper envelopes for storage, what happens when you pull them out again come planting time?   Poof! They disappear!  Even as small hands clutch them tightly, the seeds slip or blow away before making it to their designated planting spot.

So, how to avoid frustration over lost seeds?  How to make them easier to grasp, pick up, hold and plant?

Make sun-dried Seed Globes!  Three simple steps:  mix, roll, and dry in the sun.
Then they are ready to plant!

Ingrediants for Seed GlobesSeed globes are easy and fun to make: you will need four ingredients, three of which may already be in your garden.

Here’s the recipe I use:

  • 1 part seeds
  • 4 parts worm castings or garden soil
  • 5 parts powdered clay*
  • Water, as needed

*You can buy powdered clay from a ceramic supply company or an art supply store.


  • a large mixing bowl,
  • a measuring cup,
  • a rubber spatula or a wooden spoon, (optional: mix with your hands)
  • a teaspoon,
  • a spray water bottle
  • and, a tray for drying.


Mixing Seed Globe batterMix the clay, worm castings or garden soil together in the mixing bowl. Sprinkle the seeds in and mix thoroughly. Add the water and continue to stir until mixture resembles thick cake batter. Use the teaspoon to measure out enough batter for one globe. Roll the batter between your hands and form a small, round globe about the size of a cherry. Place the globe on a tray or cardboard sheet to dry in the sun. Repeat until all of the batter has been used. Let seed globes sit in the sun until they are thoroughly dry. (I find a large plastic plant pot saucer works well for drying.)

Store the dried globes in paper bags, or glass or plastic storage containers, until you are ready to plant them.  When you are ready to plant, dig a hole in the soil and bury the entire seed globe.  Or, prepare the soil, then crush and crumble the seed globe; sprinkling it across the planting area.  Cover and water in the seeds and enjoy!

Vary the size to find which works best for you – from a small pea-size, up to the size of a plum.  Making and planting the globes might be a perfect task for clients who are working on improving their fine motor skills and their eye-hand coordination.

They also make great gifts for gardeners of all ages: wrap them in small paper bags with ribbons, place them in decorative envelopes or tie them up with string inside a small square cloth. Once dry, they travel well in a shirt pocket – send them home with clients to start their own garden.  Or be a guerrilla gardener and beautify your neighborhood.  Plant them under a street tree, or throw them into an abandoned lot or field to start a wildflower garden!

Seed Globe in PoscketSome seeds to include in your seed globes: daisies, poppies, Verbascum, grasses, native wildflowers, Nigella, chamomile, radish, carrots, lettuce, mustard greens and sesame.

Use all of one kind of seed, a prepared seed mixture, or mix seeds to create your own special blend.

Happy planting!

Heather Benson is a teacher at The Tenderloin Horticultural Therapy Program in downtown San Francisco and a past graduate of the HTI.

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Kudos and Happenings at the HT Institute

Congratulations to the 30 graduates in both the Colorado and Southeast HT certificate program. Final classes wrapped up in September with a great group of students completing the program. Best wishes to all who are going forward to make a difference in the field of horticultural therapy

Kudos to the good work past student Audrey Pincins is doing at the Exeter Job Corp Academy in Rhode Island.

As a federal employee for the Department of Labor and Training she has launched a culinary garden and ornamental garden program with at risk teens where she teaches horticulture skills.

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