Therapeutic gardening: a community-led, community-wide approach

J. Koncikowski, N. Capozziello
Horticultural therapy and therapeutic gardening have been shown to considerably impact participants, improving mental well-being, physical health, and social inclusion. However, these interventions are generally implemented at discrete locations connected to specific programming, such as horticultural therapy onsite at a nursing home or a therapeutic garden at a hospice center or veterans' hospital. In 2019, Grassroots Gardens of Western New York, a regional community gardening organization, sought to change this, combining their community gardening model with the practice of therapeutic gardening. With an advisory board of community gardeners, mental health experts, university faculty and students, and community development agencies, they co-designed a new initiative to grow and develop therapeutic programming that was responsive to multiple community needs. Their work thus far has included: a grant-funded program to implement therapeutic landscapes and programming at their county's youth detention center, a two-generation foster care program, and a shelter for immigrant survivors of domestic violence; the creation of a psychoeducational workshop for people who are grieving; and a social media campaign on gardening through grief as a response to the COVID19 pandemic and white supremacist violence. In just two years, their innovative approach to collaboration and community decision-making has resulted in opportunities for healing for individuals, families, and communities.
Koncikowski, J. and Capozziello, N. (2021). Therapeutic gardening: a community-led, community-wide approach. Acta Hortic. 1330, 31-40
DOI: 10.17660/ActaHortic.2021.1330.5
community gardening, nature access, healing, grief, urban

Acta Horticulturae