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Summer 2011 Newsletter

Linking People and Plants

HTI Director’s Note: Summertime – and the Gardening is Easy?

Rebecca Haller, HTI Director

Spring planting is often very motivating for HT program participants. Everyone enjoys being outside after winter cold. Planting seeds and transplants gives a sense of hope and anticipation for the future. For some, summer gardening is a harder sell, with hot weather and endless weeding. If you experience this challenge in your program, remember all those things that participants looked forward to in the spring.

Eat what you grow! Be part of the farm-to-table movement in your own program.
Use weeding as a meditative or therapeutic analogy, or have a weeding contest.
Take time to enjoy the beauty – whether it is in flowers, food, or other bounty.
Make bouquets to share or place in dining areas.
Do a grow chart to record how fast those pole beans or morning glories climb.
Vary garden “tasks” to keep it interesting.
Notice the insects and animals that are attracted to the garden.
Get creative – draw, tell or write stories, or act out what is happening in the garden.
Take a “sensory” tour of the garden. You don’t have to have a sensory garden to find interesting smells, sounds and sights. Try “looking” at plants while blindfolded.
Remember to have fun!

Enjoy the summer, and encourage your participants to reap the rewards of the garden.

HTI Webinar – Horticultural Therapy: Programming that Enhances Growth

Did you miss last year’s HTI free webinar? Here’s your chance to see it once again.

HT Institute Webinar Registration

Thursday, September 8, 2011

  • 1:00 p.m. Eastern;
  • 12:00 p.m Central;
  • 11:00 a.m. Mountain;
  • 10:00 a.m. Pacific


Program Duration: 1 hour. Horticultural therapy creates connections and positive changes in those who are served in human service, corrections, vocational, senior care, rehabilitation, mental health, and health care programs. Gardening and caring for plants provides an opportunity for the healing and motivating benefits of connecting with nature. With the guidance of a professional horticultural therapist, efforts are focused and supported to elicit the life-improvements desired by the participants. Through examples, this presentation introduces the practice of horticultural therapy, how it can benefit residents/clients, and steps to enter this profession.

The webinar will be presented by Karen Kennedy, HTR; Faculty member, Horticultural Therapy Institute, Denver, CO

For more information and to enroll in this free webinar click here.

Fundamentals of Horticultural Therapy classes this fall

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. This is exemplified in the three upcoming HTI classes this fall, Fundamentals of Horticultural Therapy. Highlighted here are the sites of two of the classes for this fall, one at the Missouri Botanical Garden and the other at Skyland Trail in Atlanta. Look for the fall newsletter’s highlight of the Anchor Center for Blind Children in Denver in which the class will be held Nov. 3-6, 2011. Enrollment is currently being accepted for all three classes. The class is the beginning of the HTI certificate and a prerequisite for the remaining three classes. Click here for more information or click here to enroll.

The first site of HTI’s Fundamentals of Horticultural Therapy class this fall is the Missouri Botanical Garden. The class will be held Oct. 6-9, 2011. Donald Frisch, HTR is the HT program coordinator at the gardens and a past graduate of HTI. He provides this perspective on his program:

The Missouri Botanical Garden’s Horticultural Therapy program serves people of all ages and abilities in the St. Louis area.  We accomplish this through a variety of program offerings based both on the Garden grounds and at various offsite locations. The horticultural activities we facilitate are based upon the desired physical, cognitive, and social goals of the participants. We use a variety of settings to attempt to meet the needs and goals of our participants. One of those settings is the Zimmermann Sensory Garden located at the Missouri Botanical Garden. This garden has a mix of raised and ground level planting beds as well as containers of various heights. It offers a great setting for participants to strive to reach their goals. In addition to the outdoor space we have a small greenhouse that allows us to incorporate seed starting, cuttings, and other greenhouse activities into both our in-house and off-site programs. We also have many offsite programs with various levels of participation. Some of the off-site locations are very active with a year round weekly program involving outdoor and indoor gardening activities.

The site of the final Fundamentals class Nov. 17-20, 2011 will be held at Skyland Trail in Atlanta, GA. Libba Shortridge, HTR, MLA is the HT at this site and also a former graduate of the HTI certificate program. She offers this perspective on her program:

Skyland Trail  is a community-based 501c(3) nonprofit that offers hope to adults with mental illness by guiding them on the path to recovery.

How befitting it is that in November, the month of the HTI class, we will also be preparing for our annual “Thankful Celebration” while hosting a course in a field growing in appreciation throughout the health care industry.  Skyland Trail is not shy about acknowledging the importance of horticultural therapy in its holistic approach to mental health, integrating mental, physical and spiritual health. Upon opening its doors in 1989, the founders of Skyland Trail had determined that horticultural therapy is a viable aspect of recovery in mental illness. The two residential campuses and the main campus support 2 greenhouses, 3 acres of “healing trails” and numerous garden rooms for therapy.

The horticultural therapy classes will be held at Skyland Trail’s Dorothy Fuqua Training Center and the adjacent Health and Education Center.  These facilities are next door to the Hampton Inn with rooms reserved for attendees.  You can literally roll out of bed and walk to the class as if you were back in college!  On this campus, there will be opportunities to “play” in the greenhouse and to witness, first hand, the team of professionals in a health care setting of which the horticultural therapist holds a vital role.

You need not go far to find a unique palette of plants, garden rooms and collaborative environmental art on the three campuses of Skyland Trail.  There are also two greenhouses.  One greenhouse functions throughout the year as a space for therapy groups and propagation while the other greenhouse is used to promote after-care leisure skills.

In addition to the greenhouses, Skyland Trail’s three campuses each host a variety of therapeutic gardens for adults with mental illness while serving other populations as well. The inspiration for many of these gardens stemmed from the class sites for HTI’s array of horticultural therapy classes.  There is a stone labyrinth inspired by the labyrinth at the Cheyenne Botanical Gardens.

Some therapeutic gardens and structures are unique to Skyland Trail because they were designed by the clients, themselves. The paths on all 3 campuses provide a constant canvas for the expression of one’s recovery journey.  The Railroad/Fairy Garden, designed and constructed by clients, is a dynamic expression of clients’ passions during their stay at Skyland Trail.

A larger scale project currently underway, involving the collaboration of clients recovering from both substance abuse and mental illness, is the design of a “12- Step Bridge” spanning 16 feet over a creek with the meaning of each step engraved into the planks.  In the nearby community, Skyland Trail clients are engaged in the design and implementation of a Therapeutic Nature Preserve. These projects, among others will be here to inspire you during the Fundamentals of Horticultural Therapy Class.

HTI Intern Forum Beginning this Fall

Karen Kennedy, HTR

HTI introduces the first online community just for people who are preparing for, pursuing or currently doing horticultural therapy internships.  This new resource is designed to enhance the intern experience by providing potential and current interns with the opportunity to:

  • participate in professionally led discussions on topics relevant to session development, staff and client relationships, and commonly encountered issues
  • view successful project ideas shared by other interns
  • post pictures and descriptions of projects that worked for you
  • share and receive feedback on successes and challenges
  • learn from the experiences of others

Internships are valuable learning experiences providing opportunities to apply learned knowledge to real clinical situations.  The Intern Forum will be supported by Karen L. Kennedy, HTR who has 25 years experience working in the field of HT and many years supporting interns in various working environments.

The HTI Intern Form does not take the place of an internship supervisor.  But it will help equip and enable you to make the most of your internship experience.  When often many miles separate us from others learning in the field of horticultural therapy, the HTI Intern Forum connects you to HT interns and an experienced HT instantly.  Think supportive online community with the benefits of an online class, without the homework obligation!  Watch for more details on how to subscribe.

Horticultural Therapy with Youth at Risk

By: Eugene Jones, HTR

HTI Summer 2011 NewsletterCompleting the Horticultural Therapy programs at the Horticultural Therapy Institute in Denver, Colorado and Providence Farm on Vancouver Island, British Columbia has been an outstanding asset to me over the past six years as I work with at risk populations. After completing the Horticultural Therapy programs, I implemented HT as an additional treatment component to the “youth at risk population” in my group homes in North Carolina. From June 2002 to May 2010 I owned and operated four group homes and an Alternative School for “the youth at risk” ages 7-18. I established a fully operational farm with vegetable gardens, a greenhouse and various animals, in an effort to expose the youth to the joy and relaxation of working with plants and animals. The youth were responsible for caring and maintaining the farm under my supervision. In May 2010, I began working with the “at risk adult “population. I knew there was a place for the HT concept to be implemented that could serve as a therapeutic component and vocational skill training. In the Spring of 2010 I began to discuss the possibilities of adding HT at a residential alcohol and drug treatment program called Recovery Ventures Corporation. I took on the job of leading the HT program.

It was at that time that we decided to duplicate the same concepts as I had with my farm and the youth program. In February 2011, I donated my greenhouse and farm equipment to Recovery Ventures Corporation. We added hydroponics to the program which will serve as a vocational skill training program in addition to the other farm programs. We have completed a three day training program in Summerville, SC. We anticipate installing our first hydroponics greenhouse in late Fall 2011. We will provide fresh vegetables to the local communities and restaurants. Clients will have an option of working with the greenhouse business and hydroponics after they graduate from the program. As I started this new venture in March 2011, I was assigned eight ladies to start the hypertufa pottery program. I work with these clients up to 40 hours a week, which provides me with a great deal of flexibility.

Recovery Ventures owns two farms in a tranquil setting in Old Fort, North Carolina at the base of Asheville. This is a two year residential substance abuse treatment program of chronic alcoholics and drug addicts. The program currently serves men and women who are committed to making changes in their life. The program consists of many therapeutic treatment programs and job training. This program is one of four such programs in the state. The client population represents people from all walks of life, from those who have never been gainfully employed to some who were teachers, lawyers, medical personnel, and other professions. I enjoy working with this population because they know why they are here and they are willing to make sufficient changes in their lives to be a productive citizen again.

I am the only staff member that is not in recovery. The agency prefers to employ personnel who have completed their recovery to manage and assist those seeking recovery. This is a very unique program. It is the most disciplined, structured, and “life skills” promoting program that I have experienced.

Since we started the HT program we have installed the greenhouse and are currently installing another much larger greenhouse that was donated by a client’s family. We have also planted thousands of plants from seeds as well as plugs that we bought from suppliers. We have planted two large gardens and made more than 300 hypertufa pots. We are currently set up at a local tailgate market, a flea market and a daily farmers market in downtown Old Fort. We are introducing the clients to various aspects of retail sales and plant and greenhouse management. The program also includes an equine therapy program managed by a certified equine therapist.

The hypertufa program has been a tremendous success. Only one of the original eight ladies has departed the program. Since we started making the hyperfufa pots we have made more than 300 pots of various shapes sizes, and colors. Hypertufa pottery is made by combining a mixture of eco-friendly materials, which are then molded by team members into individual planters, resulting in a unique light-weight material that allows the plants to breath. Each planter gets a personalized touch as creativity is left in the hands of the men and women with dyes and other natural additions. The clients not only plant the seedlings but also choose the different plant combinations for the final product. The benefits of this project are ten-fold for the entire program. Therapeutic benefits are evident as the clients feel they are actually growing along with their creations. Skills such as teamwork, creativity, work ethic, socialization, task responsibility and nurturing are being developed and fine-tuned in this process. This is an opportunity for the clients to experience this process to come full circle in their lives.

This new venture has given me the opportunity to complete a similar concept that I had with the “youth at risk” population. One of the young ladies I am working with grew up in a group home for “youth at risk” in California. This young lady has struggled with severe drug addiction since early childhood. She is making significant changes to improve her quality of life. I feel that I have also come full circle and loving every day that I work with these men and women.