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

Wednesday, February 19, 2020 at 12:30pm NST | The Earth Sheltered Greenhouse Project with Dan Rubin of Perfectly Perennial Herbs and Seeds PROJECT REPORT

Originally trained as a biologist, Dan spent years working as a teacher, curriculum developer and school principal. After he moved to Newfoundland in 2002, he has become involved in arts management and garden education. Discovery of a series of interesting local plants led him to found a heritage seed company and share his discoveries with others. During the past eight years he has led Spring workshops called Creating the Year Round Garden, which have been attended by more than 750 local gardeners and growers. 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. Dan is always happy to share the ideas and projects on which he is working. For background, please visit http://www.perfectlyperennial.ca/

Wednesday, March 11, 2020 at 12:30pm NST | 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

Come join in a discussion on nature, rehabilitation, health and wellness. Matthew will share current developments in the field of nature-based therapies with a focus on horticultural therapy practice. Bring your curiosity, and a few questions if you like.  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.

Wednesday, April 15, 2020 at 12:30pm NST. Checking out the 365 Greenhouse: A Site Visit with hosts Megan Marshall and friends at the Elaine Dobbin Centre.

Join us for a tour of the brand new greenhouse at the Autism Society headquarters, where we'll go for  a walk-though tour and lunch.

Past Meetings:

September 12, 2019 at 12:30pm | Megan Marshall will discuss 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.

  • Wednesday, 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
  • Friday, March 2, 2018| 12:30pm-2:00pm NST | Shannon Lewis-Simpson and Megan Marshall on Horticultural Therapy Community Engaged Learning with First Year Social Work Students and Transitions Programme Participants.
  • Tuesday May 8, 2017| 12:30pm-2:00pm NST | 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

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