Horticultural Therapy

Horticultural Therapy (HT) and Therapeutic Horticulture (TH) use plants, gardens, and the natural landscape to improve cognitive, physical, social, emotional, and spiritual wellbeing.

Established on February 2, 2016, the Research Exchange Group on Horticultural Therapy is a forum for people from community, private sector, academic, healthcare and educational settings to exchange knowledge about horticultural therapy for diverse populations and in a wide variety of settings.  The group is open to anyone with an interest in this emerging field of practice and welcomes horticultural therapists and allied health professionals, health decision makers and clinicians, academics, government representatives and workers, people in the education sector, community groups, health promotion and advocacy groups, specialists in agriculture, botany and gardening, and people interested in food sustainability and security.

Upcoming Events

October 3, 2020 |  1:00pm to 3:00pm NST | "Eat the City" on a garden tour in Centre City | Join Food First NL and local organizations as we visit community and school gardens in the Centre City area of St. John's.Tour takes place from 1-3pm on Saturday October 3rd, starting at Bonaventure Garden (adjacent to the Gymnasium end of Holy Heart High School on Bonaventure Avenue) Starting at Bonaventure Garden, we will visit Aldershot Community Garden in Rabbittown, St. Bonaventure College school garden, and then neighborhood gardens in Georgestown. We'll end with a chat on the role of community gardens and 'growing your own' in St. John's. This is a free event. All ages and abilities are welcome, refreshments will be provided. Pre-registration is required and space may be limited. Registere here: https://forms.gle/TVAHEvf2uyYsh8vA8


February 19, 2020| The Earth Sheltered Greenhouse Project with Dan Rubin of Perfectly Perennial Herbs and Seeds Project Report |  Dan spent years working as a teacher, curriculum developer and school principal. After he moved to Newfoundland in 2002, he became involved in arts management and garden education. Now as a leader of the Earth Sheltered Greenhouse Project, he is combining interest in plants and concern about food security to develop year round food production by marrying the greenhouse and the root cellar. With funding from Memorial University’s Office of Public Engagement, his team will be building a demonstration version of this innovative greenhouse structure at the O’Brien Farm in St. John’s and launching a team to support others in developing community Food Hubs as a way to boost food production, create local employment and improve community health. 

March 11, 2020| Current developments in the field of nature-based therapies with a focus on horticultural therapy practice with Matthew Wichrowski MSW HTR, NYU horticultural therapist, Assistant Clinical Professor, and Editor in Chief of the Journal of Therapeutic Horticulture | A discussion on nature, rehabilitation, health and wellness. Matthew  shared current developments in the field of nature-based therapies with a focus on horticultural therapy practice. Matthew J. Wichrowski MSW, HTR has been practicing horticultural therapy at Rusk Rehabilitation NYU-Langone Medical Center for 25 years and is currently Clinical Assistant Professor. He teaches in the Horticultural Therapy Certificate Program at New York Botanical Garden, presents regularly at national and international conferences, and has won many awards for his work. Matt is also Editor-in-Chief of the AHTA’s Journal of Therapeutic Horticulture. His research interests center around the effects of nature on human health and wellness and his work has been published in a variety of media, including textbooks, journals, and magazines.

September 12, 2019| Megan Marshall on the use of Horticultural Therapy practices in the Autism Society of NL's Transitions Program, how the program taps into communicative and social skill issues that people with Autism face by using Horticultural Therapy approaches and how these approaches help teach functional employment skills

January 31, 2018 | Horticultural Therapy in the Canadian Justice System: Coast-to-Coast Perspectives

  • Ryan Frisbee on his work as a Horticultural Therapist at the Pacific Institution/ Regional Treatment Centre in British Columbia. Ryan is the Pacific Institution's registered horticultural therapist who runs one of Correctional Service Canada's most innovative treatment programs. LINK TO SLIDES
  • Lana Bos on the Horticultural Skills Training Program delivered at the Nova Institution for Women in Truro, Nova Scotia. Her presentation includes an overview of the program, courses and activities and a discussion of the benefits, successes, therapeutic connections and future opportunities. LINK TO SLIDES
  • Norman Goodyear on the Green Mindfulness program at Her Majesty’s Penitentiary in St. John’s, NL. The program evolved out of work done in cooperation with the MUN Wellness Centre and the MUN Botanical Gardens where they developed a Green Mindfulness program primarily for students, but that was also open to all within the university community and visitors to campus. LINK TO SLIDES

March 2, 2018| Shannon Lewis-Simpson and Megan Marshall on Horticultural Therapy Community Engaged Learning with First Year Social Work Students and Transitions Programme Participants.

May 8, 2017|  The Bonaventure Community Garden Project.  This garden provides a living example of HT interventions in community—being built through a partnership with Stella’s Circle and Kings Gate Condominium, with the funds received for enhanced staff training, this project will provide a space that is inviting for its users. Through the Bonaventure Community Garden, community members will be able to learn new skills to grow their own food; improve their mental health; and to top it all off, enjoy a little physical activity. Rob McLennan, Stella’s Circle and Michelle Sullivan, King’s Gate Condominium Project

March 21, 2017 | TA Loeffler on Propagating Undergraduate Student Growth through Exposure to Nature, the Outdoors, and Gardening.

January 10, 2017 | Tyla Charbonneau, Memorial Student Wellness Centre, on Walk & Talk Therapy | Link to References List

November 29, 2017 | Megan Marshall, NL Autism Society on Transitions: nature-based programming for people with autism

October 25, 2017 | Green mindfulness: a novel approach to student wellness | Presentation by Norman Goodyear and Heather Quinlan 

September 27 , 2016 | Neil Dawe, Tract Consulting,"Place Builder as a Healthy Community Planning Tool"

May 17, 2016 | Dr. S. Norman Goodyear on the Evidence Base for Horticultural Therapy.

March 11, 2016 | Networking Opportunity with University Faculty The Landing | University faculty and staff attended this meeting with liked-minded internal and external stakeholders. Faculty and staff networked with community partners to learn how they can mobilize students and knowledge at Memorial and discussed the potential to use existing resources and systems to advance research and teaching while also assisting external partners to meet their objectives.

Call for Presenters

Do you have any HT research to share with the group? Some programming your organization is planning or has completed? Let us know and we’ll out you in the roster for presentations for the coming term.  Contact Rochelle

Group Objectives

The group membership is now working on prioritizing a list of goals and objectives for the group which may include:

  • To facilitate networking, collaboration and inter-disciplinary research opportunities among members from a variety of sectors and academic disciplines.
  • To explore research opportunities and to seek funding for research projects related to HT practice and programs.
  • To exchange knowledge about research evidence related to HT and its applications.
  • To share information about HT-related activities and programs being offered through academic, healthcare, community, and private sector organizations with a view to improving knowledge about such activities across diverse sectors (removing information silos)
  • To share and promote community-based research for partners in health, education and the community who are planning to develop new HT programs in a variety of settings by involving research in program development.
  • To explore opportunities to inform policy makers about the role of green spaces, horticulture, good landscape design before infrastructure is built, and food sustainability/security with a view to promoting health and wellness in NL.
  • To bridge the activities of the Botanical Gardens at Memorial with stakeholders throughout the community.
  • To recognize the flexible and inclusive role of HT as it may extend to treatment, healing, skills development, training opportunities, experiential learning, rehabilitation, etc.
  • To recognize that the applications for HT can, and should, extend to diverse communities, including: vulnerable populations, people living in institutional healthcare settings, people living and working within correctional settings, people with a variety of health, social, and ability challenges who live within various communities and care settings, for people of all ages in educational settings and for broader public health and wellness goals that aim to address "nature deficiency" across the NL population.




Newfoundland & Labrador Centre for Applied Health Research

230 Elizabeth Ave, St. John's, NL, CANADA, A1B 3X9

Postal Address: P.O. Box 4200, St. John's, NL, CANADA, A1C 5S7

Tel: (709) 864-8000