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

Spring 2014 Newsletter

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

HTI Directors Note: The Hope of Spring

Rebecca Haller, HTI Director

Rebecca Haller, Director HTISpring! Many are eager to get outside after a long winter, with anticipation, hope and renewal – gardening enthusiasm is abundant in this season. Take advantage of the fervor by engaging new as well as experienced program participants in the gardening process. Be sure to include them in planning and preparing the outdoor garden – every bit as necessary as planting the seeds or transplants.


Garden planning offers opportunities for growth and goal achievement to participants in many ways, including:

  • Learning specifics about what, when and how to grow a variety of plants
  • Organizing thought processes, categorization, and structure
  • Cooperative problem solving
  • Working with spatial concepts – garden layout
  • Connecting concepts and pictures with real-life spaces
  • Budgeting – both money and time
  • Reminiscing – connecting to people and gardens in the past

Preparing the garden is perhaps the most important step for garden success – building and feeding the soil that supports life and growth. With plentiful therapeutic experiences, this process offers:

  • Analogies about the foundations for health
  • Delayed gratification
  • Hope for the future
  • Physical exercise
  • Rich sensory experiences
  • Beneficial soil microbes that aid to elevate mood
  • Tools trials – including modifications as needed to enable independence
  • Active hands-on group or individual work.

So, this season, encourage program participants to “own” the garden at your HT site – involve them in its design, scheduling, and formation.

HTI Program Profile: Spiritual & Physical Benefits for Recovering Addicts

by Gabrielle Samuels

Horticultural therapy and the healing power of the garden are finding a place in California. The Hills Center, a drug and alcohol treatment center serving 40 men and women 18 years and older, is located on 5 acres of lush residential land in the Hollywood Hills. The program serves both residential and outpatient clients, providing medical detox, one-on-one therapy with MFTs, group therapy and outside twelve-step meetings. Clients progress through the program from residential all-day programming to intensive outpatient. Because the program is geared toward independent living, clients eventually transfer from sober living to home (and/or work) while attending outside twelve step meetings and following-up with private therapists or psychiatrists on their own. Although our clients are high-functioning cognitively, many have never lived a sober lifestyle, finished school or held a job. At the Hills, they are encouraged and supported in finding sober living arrangements and school or work opportunities.

I started the HT program at the Hills nearly four years ago in response to the need for a physically active and experiential group. From experience, I knew that gardening could provide physical, psychological and spiritual benefits for our clients. As I learned more and completed the HTI program, the group developed into a horticultural therapy program that meets for one hour, once a week. The garden is a 100′ X 25′ level area that is nestled into an eastern facing slope. We have eight raised beds and primarily grow edibles. The garden is also home to ten chickens that provide our community with fresh eggs every day.

Our clients come from all walks of life, but share one common denominator– the disease of alcoholism and drug addiction has significantly diminished their lives. In the HT program, we experience plant lifecycles and the garden as metaphors to the clients’ newfound sobriety. One of the activities that reflect this is growing from seed. Often times, I will have the clients do some writing in the beginning of the group. Recently, they wrote about what they are trying to “grow” during their time in rehab. The clients placed their shredded paper in each section of a six-pack container that was then filled with soil and the seeds of their choice. Over the next weeks, they were able to watch their chosen vegetable grow and were asked to reflect on how they personally are growing. When the seedlings were ready, the clients replanted them in larger containers, then finally in the beds. The journey from container to container led to a conversation about moving from residential treatment to sober living to home, what feelings that brings up, and the steps to take to stay sober throughout.

Another useful activity involves composting. We use the scraps and coffee grounds from the kitchen, green material from the property, and the waste from the chicken coop to build and add to our compost piles. We talk about how this is the “trash” of the facility, and I ask them to either share or write about their inner trash; the things that they have done that they are ready to throw away. As we throw their “trash” into our compost pile we discuss how the pile can heat up and burn off pathogens, leaving the most wonderful, organic (chemical free!) fertilizer for us to use. Our trash has created something useful. Likewise, by using the tools of recovery, we can transform our worst defects, our addictions, into our greatest assets.

We are in the process of redesigning the garden to include all of the characteristics of a therapeutic garden. I have surveyed the staff, management and alumni and am working with fellow HTI graduate and landscape designer, Arleen Ferrara. My goal is that the Hills garden will provide respite for the staff as the HT program provides healing for the clients.

Horticultural Therapy Program Tips: Supporting HT Programming through Crowd Funding

by Caitlyn Olde

Setting realistic goals for getting a small HT program off the ground involved looking at a non-traditional way of funding. This is where Crowd Funding, the social media use of obtaining donations from individuals who choose to donate to your cause after viewing your fundraising page, became a reality.

Since graduating from HTI, I have started my HTR professional registration internship at the Elderhaus Adult Day Programs Inc. in Fort Collins, Colorado after recognizing a need for a stronger presence of horticultural therapy in Northern Colorado. I was initially drawn to work with the Elderhaus because the site already had a few large raised gardening beds, appropriate indoor space, and a supportive staff who seemed to believe in my vision of introducing horticultural therapy to thirty elderly clients. .

As I began my process of starting this program, I soon realized that the supportive staff and raised beds (although greatly appreciated) wasn’t quite enough to actually implement an effective horticultural therapy program. To solve this problem, I decided to obtain the $1,600 fundraising goal through social crowd funding. The websites who facilitate this opportunity take a small fee of your program’s funds as a payment for letting you use their site and resources. Although there are many crowd funding websites, I decided to use as my source of fundraising because the offices are located in Fort Collins, Colorado.

I initially decided to go this route of because I found myself to be in a position holding all of the responsibility to fund my program. This pressure forced me to set realistic goals of what I could achieve given my already busy schedule and limited time. Faced with the facts, I decided that I would be most effective as a single person doing all the work behind a computer screen rather than taking more traditional fundraising routes such as organizing fundraising events, making posters, canvasing in my community, etc. Although setting up my initial fundraising page was more difficult than I anticipated, I found the experience of fundraising though social media to be a useful tool for me to spread my horticultural therapy program’s purpose and needs to a wide audience.

Since horticultural therapy is still considered to be a relatively unknown (yet growing!) field of study, I found that using crowd funding is a great way to introduce HT to a larger audience. I found this to be true when people across state lines were able to access my fundraising page and contact me to answer further questions about HT. Another benefit of crowd funding is that it allowed me to easily introduce myself and my program’s vision to other HTR’s by connecting with them through LinkedIn, and AHTA. This became a major professional networking benefit because I now feel more connected to the HTR community and feel that I have resources and professional contacts by my side if I ever need programming advice.

Overall, crowd funding has allowed me to now say that I successfully fundraise my entire HT program. I found the entire process to be surprisingly easy for one person to do and I encourage anyone who is trying to fundraise for an HT program to try this route. If anyone has further questions or would like more information on the pros and cons of crowd funding, I welcome your questions and comments and can be reached at [email protected]

HTI Kudos and Happenings

The HT Institute is beginning to enroll in three Fundamentals of HT classes scheduled for fall 2014. As a leader in HT education the certificate program introduces 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. Join students from across the country to learn more by enrolling one of the four-day courses. For more information go to
Congratulations to several HTI graduates as they embark on horticultural therapy careers and are now professional y registered with the distinction of HTR.

Joel Friesen, HTR, (CA)I am currently in a master’s degree program at University of California, Davis studying horticulture and agronomy with the goal of teaching adaptive horticulture at the community college level. To be considered for a faculty position in this department, a master’s degree is now required as is the HTR designation, so the classes I took and the personal connections I made with practicing horticultural therapists through HTI will certainly be invaluable for me in the future.

Millie Boyd, HTR: (TX) I am continuing to work with a local inclusion preschool serving children ages 3-5. So much opportunity is being identified in this area as I share information about my work as a horticultural therapist. Specifically I’ve been in contact with the people designing a program for the wounded warriors at Ft. Bragg in Fayetteville NC.

Nellie Bhattarai, HTR: (PA) The Central Counties Youth Center was happy with the HT program that I developed and practiced as my internship for HTR credentials so I have continued with our two-week sessions on a contract basis. We call the program Horticultural Therapy: Plants and Life. I’ve enjoyed working with this population and have been driven by the hope of a better future for these kids. We’ve had a lot of fun and it’s been an incredible opportunity to positively impact a generation of delinquent youth who have so much opportunity for greatness!

Elizabeth Bukoski, HTR: (MD) I am learning more about therapeutic horticulture and activities to do with participants. I greatly look forward to this experience working with and in a variety of populations, (Assisted Living, Elder Care, & children with DD) settings and projects. During this continued time of learning, I have resurrected a local HT/ TH group which will meet 4 times a year in order to discuss HT / TH matters.

Jennifer Manning, HTR: (NC) I’m a horticultural therapist at The Special Children’s School, which is part of The Centers for Exceptional Children located in Winston-Salem, NC. I work with children with developmental and orthopedic disabilities, and other health impairments. In addition, I provide HT to seniors in a Memory Care facility. The best part is that everyone brings different perspectives and ideas to the horticultural therapy field.


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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