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

Winter 2013 Newsletter

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

HTI Director’s Note: Optimism Abounds

Rebecca Haller, HTI Director

Rebecca Haller, Director HTIHappy 2013 to everyone! As we enter a new calendar year, optimism abounds – min included. In winter we clear out, recharge, and regroup for the coming enthusiasm of spring. In the HT realm, we have many reasons for hope. In the fall 2012 semester, the Institute taught over 100 students in the five classes held, indicating that interest and desire for HT careers is strong and growing. Students continue to connect with each other after the class is over – strengthening ties and sharing discoveries. Nationally, the AHTA persists in moving forward with improved standards for the profession, and resources for its members. Despite the challenges to complete an internship, many students are finding ways to accomplish this important professional training experience. Congratulations to nine HTI students who achieved HTR status in 2012. And what a great bunch of program proposals came across my desk from the Horticultural Therapy Management students! It is terribly exciting to think about all the possibilities for future program development. Already, many of them have begun to succeed. Am I optimistic? You bet!

Rebecca is the director and lead instructor of the HT Institute

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HTI Program Profile: Arzetta and the Zucchini

Jackie Hoopfer

Cedars Retirement Community

I have the privilege of being a horticultural therapist at the Cedars Retirement Community in Leo, Indiana. Each early spring I have a garden session asking the residents what they would like to have in the gardens for the upcoming year. At the garden session I expected to hear the familiar requests; red geraniums, petunias, yellow marigolds, anything purple. This year however, there were many requests for vegetables. Great memories and stories soon filled the room of the gardens they had in the past, the vegetables they grew while raising families.

The talk became infectious. The Garden Club talked about vegetables for weeks. There was debate over the best tomatoes, beans and herbs. One resident, Arzetta, wanted to grow zucchinis. She could not wait to get started on the project. With so many varieties of what the residents wanted to plant the bounty would be vast. They decided that a solution for the large amounts of vegetables that would be in the garden, was to start a Farmers Market. In the Garden Club we started trays of vegetables, when the seeds were large enough we transplanted them. We planted some of the seedlings in the garden, others were taken to the Farmers Market.

Cedars Retirement Community
Arzetta soon became the resident zucchini expert. She watched daily for plant growth, and reported to all what was happening. The residents were excited when it came time to harvest the vegetables. The pride the residents had was astounding when they went down to the Farmers Market and told local community residents that they had started the seeds, tended to the plants and were bringing the produce to the market. They also shared recipes and gardening tips. In the middle of summer Arzetta realized that our zucchini crop was abundant. We soon had the help of the assisted living ladies who were baking different kinds of zucchini bread for the market. One rainy afternoon the Garden Club moved inside to do some zucchini muffin baking of their own. They worked hard on grating the zucchini, stirring the batter and filling the muffin tins. Our activity helper, Kayla, had a muffin tin full of batter but turned too quickly and dropped the muffin tin on the floor. Without missing a beat, Arzetta spoke of one of her first holiday meals she messed up right before serving the dish to her guests. Her Mother- in- Law told her that happens to all young cooks and not to dwell on it. Soon everyone was sharing stories on kitchen mishaps, and there was lots of laughter. What the ladies were doing was making sure our young activity helper would not be discouraged by the incident of having the muffin tin upside down on the floor. One lady told Kayla, “The final product is such a small amount of the process of what you do.” Arzetta added, “Even if our zucchini was on the floor, it was one of our best Garden Club sessions of the summer.”

Arzetta passed away last month. I will greatly miss her summer morning salutations of “Hey kiddo, how are the zucchini today” that greeted me each day. I asked her husband if I could tell her story. He hugged me and said with a gleam in his eye “Boy, Zett sure loved the garden and growing those crazy zucchinis. It allowed her to have a little normalcy back in her life.”

Cedars Retirement CommunityA plaque is in the garden with a quote from Robert Louis Stevenson, “Don’t judge each day by the harvest you reap, but by the seeds you plant”. For us it wasn’t about growing the zucchinis that added such a positive element to the summer, it was the journey we took in getting there.

Jackie Hoopfer is horticultural therapist at the Cedars Retirement Community in Leo, Indiana. She completed training at the HT Institute fall 2012.

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Horticultural Therapy Program Tips: War Garden Project at Fort Campbell: Just Talk Gardening. It’s Normal

Dana Chango

War Garden logo

February is vastly approaching and before you know it will be spring. Buds on trees will start to open, the crocus will start to peak through the soil and everyone will have the itch to start planting their garden. In the big box retailers, the Christmas is gone and the shelves are filled with grass seed and crabgrass preventer, the new mowers are out and display racks of garden seeds are strategically placed where the customers will see them. This is normal.

So becoming a horticultural therapist and expanding on my passion for gardening was the natural thing to do. As a military spouse, I am very involved within our military community. As normal as gardening is for me, how was I going to approach having a garden and a horticultural therapy program on our base? So the first thing I did was to research horticultural therapy and the military. To my surprise, much information came up, dating back to World War I and II. And of course, that lead me to the Victory Gardens. So as normal as gardening is, it was normal and actually encouraged back in the 1940’s as well as horticultural therapy was practiced with the soldiers returning from the war.

A light bulb went on. That was it and I was going to do what I do best. I was going to talk about it. And talk, I did, with everyone and everybody I had ever come in contact with. The interest was there but how was I going to pull it off?

war GardenI had to come up with the plan. In our military community, I had to narrow my focus of who I wanted to serve. As in business, my target customer was going to be the wounded warriors. The timing couldn’t be better. Our troops are returning home, some from their sixth deployment and many have combat stress and one in six have PTSD. As these soldiers return home, they go through a reintegration process. After combat, they are forever changed and have to find a new normal. There is that word again, NORMAL. And after a year and half the War Garden Project was started.

It was not an easy process, but I talked about what I knew and through relationships I had built along the way, I had the confidence to talk about horticultural therapy and how it could help our soldiers, our families and the community.

In starting your horticultural therapy program, I recommend the following steps:

    1. Know the population and the demographics of those you want to serve. Do your homework.
    2. Be confident. And do what you do best. Talk about your passion for gardening and horticultural therapy. And talk some more.
    3. Reach out to local businesses and organizations, talk to women’s group, network with your local chamber of commerce and local churches. Follow-up with the local paper or local news websites for events in your community for networking opportunities.
    4. Timing is everything. With spring right around the corner, now is the time.


War GardenRemember, gardening is normal and no matter the population, you choose to work with, they are all trying to find their new “NORMAL.”

The War Garden Project broke ground Veteran’s Day weekend of 2012 with a grant of $10,500 from the Home Depot Foundation, the help of 87 Home Depot associates and the support of the Screaming Eagles Association and Lend Lease, Inc. In February of 2013, Screaming Eagles Association and the War Garden Project was selected to receive additional funding from Home Depot.

Dana Chango is a horticultural therapist and founder of the War Garden Project.
She works weekly with soldiers attached to the Warriors Transition Battalion at Fort Campbell, Kentucky.

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Kudos and Happenings at the HT Institute

Skyland Trail

The HT Institute is excited to announce three new Fundamentals of HT classes scheduled for the fall 2013. We are headed back to the Southeast at Skyland Trail in Atlanta, GA and in addition will have a class for the first time at the Dallas Arboretum. Check out the schedule for more details.

Congratulations to two HTI graduates who have recently attained HTR status. Kristy DeBoer, HTR from the Chicago area does HT programming and landscape design for several local senior facilities. She completed her internship at the Chicago Botanic Gardens and has an associate’s degree in recreational therapy. This past Nov. she presented “The Benefits of Adding HT to your Existing Programming” at the Illinois Therapeutic Recreation annual conference.

Erin Backus,HTR. also a past HTI graduate works as a program facilitator at an organic garden at Green Chimney’s in Brewster, NY. The organization is a school and residential center for students with social, emotional and learning disabilities. She runs the horticulture related programs for the residents.

Eugene Jones, HTR has just announced that Farm Fresh Ventures will begin providing fresh lettuce and seasonal organic produce to The Inn at Biltmore Estate. Past HTI student, Jones manages the hydroponics greenhouse and horticultural therapy program in Old Fort, NC serving people with mental illness.

Lastly, the Denver Botanic Gardens is offering a summer internship in Horticultural Therapy. Supervised by a registered HT, interns will apply HT techniques and refine skills learned in the classroom. Deadline for applications are February 15, 2013.  Internships will run for 10 consecutive weeks starting May 28. Contact Angie Andrade Foster, HTR at 303-419-8705 for more information.

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Rebecca Haller Speaks at HT Conference in France

Isabelle Boucq

The French association Jardins et Santé (Gardens and Health) has been an advocate of healing gardens in medical settings for nearly 10 years. Its volunteer members raise funds to encourage clinical research into the benefits of therapeutic gardens and to create healing gardens in medical institutions around the country. Every two years, the association organizes a conference in Paris to bring together researchers and those involved in projects in psychiatric units, centers caring for Alzheimer’s patients and other settings.

Rebecca Haller was invited to speak at their conference in November 2012. Organizers were particularly interested in the use of horticulture with patients with neurodegenerative diseases as well as with her knowledge of the horticultural therapy education and training opportunities in the United States.during the plenary session, Haller in FranceRebecca described techniques for gardening with people with Lou Gehrig’s disease, Huntington disease and Parkinson and how working in the garden helps alleviate some of their symptoms. To communicate with her audience in a standing-room only amphitheater on the campus of Sainte Anne, Paris’ most well-known psychiatric hospital, Rebecca used PowerPoint slides in French while commenting in English. Et voilà!

Questions following her talk – many dealing with the adaptative tools she had shown during her presentation – clearly showed that the participants got her point very well. They also appreciated a small gesture Rebecca made to bring nature into the otherwise dull and windowless amphitheater. During the break preceding her talk, she went around the room distributing leaves to participants. She opened her talk by inviting them to look at the leaf and to marvel at its complexity. This was a simple, yet powerful point.

The following day, participants broke away in smaller groups for a series of roundtables. Rebecca’s talk described the many opportunities for education and training in HT in the United States. This was of much interest because the issue of training is at the heart of many discussions about this budding discipline in France. There are a few short trainings available, but no full-scale degree or certification process yet.

Rebecca Haller with Anne and Jean-Paul RibesAt the conference, Rebecca had many opportunities to chat with participants and speakers from various backgrounds. During her stay in France, she also had a chance to meet Anne and Jean-Paul Ribes, two pioneers in the field of HT. As a nurse who went on to study horticulture to further her vision of green spaces in hospitals, Anne has created several healing gardens over the past ten years, including one for autistic children in a Paris hospital. The Ribes invited Rebecca to their delightful dwelling outside of Paris. Walking around the park surrounding their home, an immediate rapport was born from talking about trees and plants. The highlight of the day was a visit to a nearby home for patients with brain injuries where Anne and Jean-Paul recently started a healing garden with the residents. The residents proudly led a visit of their garden and offered their visitors refreshments, including jams they had made from the garden.

Editorial note from Rebecca Haller:

Thanks to Isabelle Boucq for all her support in symposium arrangements, translation, hospitality, and facilitation of professional connections. What an energetic and positive force she is! It was an honor to speak at a symposium with such enthusiastic speakers and participants. Clearly, we can expect to see many new developments in horticultural therapy programming and healthcare gardens in France.

Isabelle Boucq is a past HTI student and writes a French blog

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Carolinas HT Network is Launched

John Murphy, HTR

Horticultural Therapy is often referred to as an ‘emerging profession’. There’s a lot of meaning wrapped up in the little nugget of a term, but part of it means as HTs we are still few and far between and we don’t have the support networks other more established professions may enjoy. Our profession’s span between social science and natural science is perhaps viewed as quirky by traditional universities which tend to segregate these various disciplines. Very few HTs have received their professional training from universities (although that may be changing), so little, if any, support can be expected from higher education.

Therefore it’s often up to us to form the kind of support groups we need to discuss issues in the profession, learn from each other and even be inspired by our colleagues. After a four year dry spell, HTs in North and South Carolina enthusiastically re-formed a group to do just those things. In August, 2012 a meeting at the NC Botanical Gardens in Chapel Hill drew 27 folks—from long-time practitioners to those newly interested, to christen the Carolinas HT Network. This group fills the void left by the disbanding of the Carolinas Chapter of AHTA in the fall of 2008 following new chapter regulations passed by AHTA.

Carolinas HT Network

The Carolinas host a number of excellent and innovative HT programs (if I do say so myself) and the interest in the profession is growing. Certainly HTI has found a bevy of new students in the field while offering their series of classes over 2 separate years. So the advent of the Carolinas HT Network is definitely due. The group’s structure, while still evolving, is currently rather informal. The momentum of our initial meeting, led to planning another one-day conference to take place on Feb. 2 at the New Hanover County Arboretum in Wilmington, NC, the site of the Ability Garden, a well known HT program in the area.

The Carolinas HT Network strives to connect and motivate all who are working in HT or are just interested in learning more. If you would like to join us, please send me an email ([email protected]) and I’ll add you to our contact list.

John Murphy,HTR is a past HTI graduate and director of the Bullington Center in Hendersonville, NC

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