Therapeutic Horticulture at the Gardens
Coastal Maine Botanical Gardens Therapeutic Horticulture Coordinator Irene Brady Barber offers the following programs in the Lerner Garden of the Five Senses for groups and individuals.
Wednesdays and Fridays (summer)
Group Horticultural Therapy
This is a unique opportunity for people of all abilities to experience the emotional, physical, and cognitive benefits of invigorating gardening activities tailored to the group’s abilities. The price for a six-week group session is $275; a 12-week session is $500. For more information, or to register, contact Irene at email@example.com, or 207-633-4333, ext. 117.
New for 2013!
Wellness Sessions for Caregivers and Loved Ones
Caregivers, are you looking for a gentle, therapeutic outdoor activity to enjoy with your parent, spouse or child? Therapeutic Horticulture Coordinator Irene Barber is offering individualized 90-minute garden-related activities on Thursdays throughout the season. Enjoy time together in a supportive and nurturing atmosphere, surrounded by the uplifting beauty of our gardens. Participants will go home with a finished project to keep or to give a friend. To schedule one of these sessions or for more information, contact Irene at firstname.lastname@example.org, or call 207-633-4333, ext. 117.
History of the Therapeutic Horticulture Program at Coastal Maine Botanical Gardens
Under the American Horticultural Therapy Association (AHTA), the definition of Horticultural Therapy (HT) is the engagement of a person in gardening-related activities, facilitated by a trained therapist, to achieve specific treatment goals. At the Gardens, the program was operated beginning in 2010 as non-treatment goal oriented, and was referred to as “therapeutic horticulture.” However, with a trained and registered horticultural therapist, beginning with the 2011 season we added a goal-treatment-oriented division at Coastal Maine Botanical Gardens. Landscape Designer and Horticulturalist Irene Brady Barber was hired as an intern in 2010 to run the pilot program, coordinating the gardening activities according to group and individual abilities.
The groups were comprised of individuals of many different abilities. The gardening activities provided a source of emotional, physical and mental benefits. Group sizes ranged from three to seven people. Irene had assistance from several volunteers and other staff members to run the program successfully. Some of the groups were accompanied by assistants from the facilities with which they were associated. Participants came from Mobius Inc. in Damariscotta, The Lincoln Home in Newcastle, St. Andrews’ Gregory Wing in Boothbay, and VIP (Visually Impaired People) in Boothbay. Each individual overcame what is considered a challenge while they performed the gardening activities; for instance, someone who is visually impaired was able to sow lettuce seeds in one of the raised beds. Another person functioning in a wheelchair was able to pull out bolting lettuce in the same raised bed, which has wheelchair accessibility. These activities were mostly held in our Lerner Garden of the Five Senses.
In 2011, Coastal Maine Botanical Gardens offered a minimal fee-based HT program with new group sizes of four or more and ran a one-on-one goal-oriented series. Sessions were offered in 5- or 12-week series. Eventually, we plan to offer HT training opportunities to professionals in the health care or education fields.