| City Farmer:Hort Therapy
Published by City Farmer, Canada's Office of Urban Agriculture


Horticulture Therapy

men with pumpkins

Photo: City Farmer staff with seniors.
Michael Levenston
Executive Director City Farmer
(C) Copyright: City Farmer

In 1988 City Farmer built five raised wooden beds at our Demonstration Garden to accommodate people in wheelchairs. We invited people from a variety of healthcare facilities to come and take part in horticultural activities such as watering, seeding, and making crafts from plants in the garden. Quadriplegic children, adults in their 90's and people with a variety of disabilities were brought in special buses to our new "Ability Garden" by their care givers .

After two years of work with the pilot program, we concluded that everyone loved the experience whether because they enjoyed being out in the fresh air, smelling the flowers, tasting the just picked vegetables and berries, or because of the physical activity of gardening and the social interaction with their fellow gardeners and our horticultural animators.

Our enthusiasm for horticulture therapy encouraged us to produce a short handbook titled Gardening With People With Disabilities and send it out to all the health care facilities in the Province.


More About The Program From Our Handbook

Horticultural Therapy: New Options for People With Disabilities

Gardening With Disabled Individuals

Let's Get Growing!


Ordering The Handbook

Gardening With People With Disabilities

by City Farmer
1989, 22 pages
$6.00 from City Farmer
#801-318 Homer St.
Vancouver, BC V6B 2V3 Canada

raised beds
Photo: Raised beds at the City Farmer garden.


Sites to See

Fight Depression and Anxiety with a Therapy Garden

Ann Kent, HTM, Catkin Gardens, Horticultural Therapy http://www.catkingardens.ca Ann Kent, HTM, is a horticulturist and a Registered Horticultural Therapist with more than three decades of experience in therapeutic horticulture, horticultural therapy, and restorative garden design. Her business, Catkin Gardens, is located in Vancouver, BC.

March 31, 2009 - Useful information from Ann Kent:

The AHTA has, since November, 2007, only accorded professional registration as an HTR. The association upgraded the requirements for HTR and eliminated the other two.

The AHTA website is worth a visit as it has recently added an excellent PDF file that defines TH, HT, a whole raft of garden design terms associated with restorative gardens, and a super research and reference list.

Providence Farm discontinued its Certificate program in 2006 and now offers an internship training program in HT instead.

The BC Chapter of the CHTA folded nearly three years ago. The new Vancouver Area Therapeutic Horticulture Interest Group will likely apply to form a new chapter under the CHTA.

Vancouver BC - VanDusen Botanical Garden Horticultural Therapy Certificate Program 2010/2011 Healing through Gardening

The profession and practice of Horticultural Therapy makes use of the innate connections between people and plants by creatively adapting gardening and other nature-related activities to address the therapeutic needs of individuals and groups. Horticultural Therapy is a successful therapeutic modality in healthcare and social service facilities, schools, correctional centres and community settings.

VanDusen's Horticultural Therapy Certificate Program provides training for professionals to add Horticultural Therapy (HT) to their existing skill set, and for those wishing to pursue a career in HT. This program is ideal for recreation and occupational therapists, activity workers, counsellors, healthcare workers, teachers, landscape designers, and more.

More information here.

The Spirit Of Healing
"Having had cancer has allowed me certain freedoms I never had prior to my illness. One of those freedoms is the ability to talk openly and candidly about my experience. This piece entitled The Spirit of Healing comes from a place deep inside. A place from which we all have the ability to seize and harness energy, but a place few of us tap into until we are confronted with a crisis in our lives. How each person harnesses his or her ability to heal is as different as each person is different."

Horticulture As Therapy
"Mr. Mitchell Hewson was the first Registered Horticultural Therapist to practice in Canada. He completed his Master of Horticultural Therapy, or HTM with the American Horticultural Therapy Association in 1983. In order to receive this designation, he completed an internship at Clinton Valley Centre, in Michigan with Professor Alice Burlingame through the University of Michigan. Mitchell has also been trained and certified in Aromatherapy from the Centre of International Holistic Studies in Hamilton, Ontario. Mitchell is an accomplished therapist, educator, lecturer and writer."

The Canadian Horticultural Therapy Association
has two levels of registration: Horticultural Therapy Technician and Horticultural Therapist

The American Horticultural Therapy Association
has three levels of registration: Horticultural Therapist Assistant, Horticultural Therapist Registered and Master Horticultural Therapist. This site also links to publications and research.

Providence Farm
Providence Farm offers the only certificate program in Canada accredited by both the CHTA and AHTA.

In Vancouver BC, contact Shelagh Smith (heartand soil@canada.com) or call Banfield Pavilion's Occupational Therapy Department, 604.875.4189

Buehler Enabling Garden in Chicago's Botanical Garden
"This beautiful 11,000-square-foot garden demonstrates the latest strategies, including raised beds, vertical gardens and hanging baskets, for easy lifelong gardening. Many of these same ideas can be adapted in home gardens to create enabling gardens for a lifetime of easy, enjoyable gardening." Updated June 16, 2003

The Sensory Garden Project
"A garden designed specifically to be 'Positive About Disabled People'. To stimulate the senses and provide a haven of peace, a place to chill-out and unwind from the stress of modern living." Updated June 17, 2003

Books on Horticulture Therapy

Horticultural Therapy Methods
Making Connections in Health Care, Human Service, and Community Programs
Rebecca L. Haller, HTM
Christine L. Kramer, BA

"This book explores widely accepted treatment methods using horticulture as a therapeutic modality. Through the years, horticultural therapy (HT) has evolved from its use only by volunteer gardeners to become a recognized and respected therapeutic modality conducted by trained, registered professionals. Horticultural Therapy Methods details the basics of the growing, time-proven practice of therapy though gardening. Experienced practitioners and educators discuss horticultural therapy theory, application, and the impressive positive impact it has on clients. Beginners are educated on key issues and given the tools needed to effectively treat clients." Updated January 5, 2007

Gardens for the Senses, Gardening as Therapy
Written by: Hank Bruce
Published by Winner Enterprises, 1999
Winner Enterprises,
670 Nighthawk Cr,
Winter Springs, FL 32708

"Imagine a place of healing, a place where everyone can be accepted, where stress can be lost and peace discovered. In this book Hank Bruce describes the garden as a powerful place of renewal and connection. On a lighter note, the chapter on edible flowers is a sheer delight. He takes us on a journey through the garden as a sensory experience, and explores ways that these personal discoveries can be used to improve the quality of life of the residents of senior care facilities, or friends and relatives with developmental disabilities, and those of us with either physical or mental limitations. The garden is non-judgmental, the garden is patient, the garden is always there to reveal daily discoveries of sight, fragrance, texture, taste and sound. This book discusses the diversity and harmony of the green community as a metaphor for the human community. Peace can literally be grown in the garden." Posted April 16, 2002

Gardening Projects for Horticultural Therapy Programs
Written by: Hank Bruce
Published by Petals & Pages Press 2000
Petals & Pages Press
30548 St. Andrews Blvd., Sorrento, FL 32776

"This book is an idea resource for healthcare professionals, activity directors and educators. There are detailed instructions for the creation of 31 specific gardens ranging from The Edible Flower Garden to Tarzan's Garden and a Portable Butterfly Garden. There are outlines for the creation of sensory gardens both indoors and out, instructions on how to grow Cracker Jacks and Topatoes (or is it Pomatoes). There are even directions on how anyone can do research that can be used to feed a hungry world, regardless of age or ability level." Updated June 17, 2003

Gardening Within Arm's Reach
Gardening and experiencing nature for the visually handicapped. How to set up a garden with this in mind.

by Hans Schuman
Utrechtseweg 84, 3702 AD Ziest,
The Netherlands ISBN: 90 71534 29 4

"Gardening within arm's reach is intended for professionals who garden with specific groups, such as (school) children, elderly people and people with an impairment. It is a book that shows how fruitful it can be if a handicap or other limiting factor takes a back seat and the emphasis is laid instead upon the potential people possess to shape their environment. The book rests on many long years of experience gained in gardening with visually handicapped students at the Bartiméus school. " Updated June 17, 2003

Horticultural Therapy and the Older Adult Population

by Suzanne E. Wells, MS
1997, 210 pages
The Haworth Press
10 Alice Street, Binghamton, NY 13904-1580
Phone: 607-722-5857

"Here is a rich collection of articles on the research and application of people-plant interaction studies...This book points to the potentials for expanding options in later life through horticulture."

Accessible Gardening for People with Physical Disabilities
"A Guide to Methods, Tools and Plants"

by Janeen R. Adil
1994, 300 pages
Woodbine House 6510 Bells Mill Road
Bethesda, MD 20817 USA
ph: 800-843-7323

"A well-written, comprehensive and thoroughly researched book filled to the brim with detailed descriptions of how to make the garden accessible...Influenced by both the knowledgeable hand of the experienced gardener and the loving hand of the parent of a child who has a disability."

The Able Gardener
"Overcoming Barriers of Age & Physical Limitations"

by Kathleen Yeomans, R.N.
1992, 298 pages
Garden Way Publishing
Storey Communications, Inc.
Schoolhouse Road Pownal, Vermont 05261 USA

"An avid gardener, Kathy Yeomans is active in professional occupational and physical therapy organizations. For the past 15 years she has been in charge of nursing services and patient education at the Arthritis Institute in Santa Barbara, CA."

The Enabling Garden
"Creating Barrier-Free Gardens"

by Gene Rothert, HTR
1994, 160 pages

The author is Manager of Urban Horticulture at the Chicago Botanic Garden, where he also oversees their Enabling Garden for People with Disabilities.

Growing With Gardening
"A Twelve Month Guide for Therapy, Recreation and Education"

by Bibby Moore, HTR
The University of North Carolina Press, 1989
PO Box 2288, Chapel Hill
NC 27515-2288 USA

"Growing With Gardening provides step-by-step guidance in developing and operating a year-round horticultural program for therapy, recreation and education. Developed under the auspices of the North Carolina Botanical Garden, it features more than 250 activities, organized by month, ranging from building a wheelchair-accessible garden to creating crafts from natural plant materials."

Container Gardening For The Handicapped

by Frank J. Schweller
1989, 64 pages
Hand-D-Cap Publishing
1027 E. Las Palmaritas Dr.
Phoenix, AZ. 85020 USA

"My wife Dorothy, who is featured in all the photographs, has arthritis and uses a wheelchair for shopping trips and other periods where long standing is required. Through her experiences with gardening I have gained first hand knowledge of the obstacles that stand in the way of the handicapped gardener." [The Author]


Horticulture as Therapy
"A Practical Guide to Using Horticulture as a Therapeutic Tool

by Mitchell Hewson, H.T.M.
1995, 154 pages,
From: Mitchell Hewson
Homewood Health Centre Inc.
150 Delhi Street
Guelph, Ontario, Canada N1E 6K9

Written by the first Registered Horticultural Therapist to practice in Canada, the Chairman and founding member of the Canadian Horticultural Therapy Association, and a man with 20 years of real-life experiences, this book "is sufficiently complete to enable a novice to move forward with confidence, yet filled with enough innovation to enable even the veteran professional to find it valuable."



The Canadian Horticultural Therapy Association
C.H.T.A. Head Office
80 Westmount Rd
Guelph, ON
Phone: (519) 822-9842
British Columbia Chapter of The Canadian Horticultural Therapy Association (BC-CHTA)

Horticultural Therapy Courses offered through the Providence Horticulture Centre, BC, Canada

Care of:
101-1001 W. Broadway
Box 115
Vancouver V6H 4E4
Student $15
Individual $20
Organization/Corporation $50

The BC Chapter of the Canadian Horticultural Therapy Association has over 65 members across BC, with many members clustered on beautiful Vancouver Island. We work in close association with the Canadian Horticultural Therapy Association and meet twice a year with our members as well as hold an annual conference. For more information about the BC Chapter of the Canadian Horticultural Therapy Association and our upcoming conference in the Fall of 2002 in Victoria, BC, please contact:

Co-Chairs: Kathleen Laird-Burns, 1187 Hampshire Rd, Victoria, BC, V8S 4T1 Ph: 250-592-3507 Email: klairdburns@shaw.ca

American Horticultural Therapy Association
Horticultural Therapy Association
The Geoffrey Udall Building
Trunkwell Park
Beech Hill



British Columbia/Vancouver Island.

In 2001 Providence Farm offered four courses for students wishing to learn more about Horticultural Therapy or those wishing to work towards professional registration. For up to date information on 2002 courses and Internships please contact:

Providence Farm
1843 Tzouhalem Rd,
Duncan, BC, V9L 5L6
Ph: 250-746-8982 Fx: 250-746-8616
email: pollardc@island.net



Horticultural Therapeuitc Tools/Equipment


Enabling Tools from Gardenscape Ltd.

"Sometimes an enabling tool is not that much different from a regular tool - it can be the way a handle is gripped, a little extra length in the handle to prevent extra bending or stretching, a padded seat that lets the person garden more comfortably from a sitting position."

Peta UK Ltd.
Peta UK Ltd
Mark's Hall
Margaret Roding Dunmow
Essex CM6 1QT
Tel & Fax 01245 231811
International +44 1245 231811
Living Wall Gardens
A vertical gardening system which allows anyone to garden indoors and out within their reach. Living Wall Gardens helps contribute towards a fuller, more normal lifestyle when used by seniors and people with disabilities.

Garden Forever
Garden Forever is a place to read about how other people manage to continue to garden. There are articles about the soothing effect of gardening, gardens in the sky (roof top gardens), overcoming health problems, gardens that shine in the evening, and programmes that help children, the elderly, and the physically challenged. Posted August 23, 1999

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Revised Nov 4, 2017

Published by City Farmer
Canada's Office of Urban Agriculture