Therapeutic Suggestions for Garden Clubs
Thank you for your desire to help members of your community enjoy the beauty of nature and share in your love of gardening. Horticultural Therapy is a welcome modality in many organizations from local veterans hospitals and schools with at risk students to residents in long term care and group homes for adults with intellectual disabilites.
Do you want to creat a brand new program or add another level of programming to an existing project? Here are a few suggestions :
Research the different organizations and level of mental, physical and intellectual challenged populations you feel comfortable working with as a group. Discuss what ages and abilities would you like to work with as volunteers.
Contact the Activity Director, Recreational or Occupational Therapist at the facility you are interested in assisting or school administrator and offer to help after meeting with him or her.
Questions to ask are "where would programs be offered"? "How many people would be attending"? "Are you interested in having us help you in an outdoor space or only indoor programming"? "Will staff be available to work with us on projects"? "Who do you know that likes to garden but hasn't had the opportunity"? "Is there a space where we can store our items for programming"?
Hopefully you have a garden therapy committe working on this and if so, they can form a wish list of items for general members to contribute for your program.
*containers for planting (yogurt containers work really well)
*watering "cans" (I love the pitcher style o.j. bottles after being finished)
*plant slips for propagation (staff members and families can be encouraged as well)
*plant labels (also can be recycled old ones)
*soil, trowels (may be modified with pipe insulation)
*seeds, old garden magazines and plant catalogs, craft supplies and newspaper for covering workspace
* recycled glass or plastic jars to root cuttings
If you love bookstores and libraries like I do, borrow or purchase books that give ideas for garden projects that you like to do yourselves. Do you want a tuna can with foam in it and a plastic flower planted in it to take home? 'Then don't do that to your participants. Make it meaningful and a little challenging. Beautiful live arrangements are a joy to leave with them but no long after you go home, the flowers wilt and die. Why not leave them with living plants that will remind them of home, not death.
Of course you can stay in your pajamas and drink coffee while spending the entire day looking at 100s of thousands of ideas for programming on PINTRIST, INSTAGRAM, GOOGLE IMAGES AND AMAZON BOOKS. Read the newsletters of your favourite plant society. For example, the Herb Society of America has a wonderful newsletter monthly from each state with recipes, craft projects and history you can weave into your activity.
Make a file folder for hardcopies of projects-I have file boxes just for one kind of project. You will too eventually. Let everyone know you are looking for articles about daisies, pressed flowers, rock gardens, anything you can think of. Then you will have more than enough material to plan your weekly or monthly calendar and list supplies and make samples.
Many of us want to be of help to others and show God our appreciation for the blessings He has given us. It feels great to give doesn't it? Well, most of the clients in programs are on the receiving end and never get a chance to give even though they want to. 'Give them a chance to make something worth giving to someone else. Help them to nurture a living thing and feel the hope that happens when they look at it.
Finally, crafts are great--I've been doing them all my life but to make it really meaningful, ask them open ended questions that are helping them to socialize, reminisce, share and most importantly, give you information about who they are and where they've been in life. Use those treasured words to work with them to achieve their goals and their therapists, teachers or Life Enhancement Directors. Expect to see individuals blossom with your tender care.