Time in nature and getting our hands dirty as we cultivate new growth, can certainly be therapeutic. With this in mind, at Newport Academy, students work together to build gardens and tend to them weekly. As a result, this allows teens to get to taste the fruits and vegetables of their efforts at mealtimes.
Horticulture Therapy dates back to Socrates, but was first explored through a scientific lens in the 18th century. Dr. Benjamin Rush, recognized as the “father of American psychiatry”, documented the positive effect that working in gardens had on individuals with mental health challenges. In the wake of World War II, rehabilitation facilities for military veterans drew on Rush’s work. For this reason, horticulture gained wide acceptance as a therapeutic modality. Furthermore, today, its uses include a broad range of rehabilitative, vocational, and community settings.
Benefits of Horticulture Therapy
Our Horticulture instills a sense of nurturing and hope. In addition, teens bring plants to life through proper care and nutrition, and watch them blossom over time. This is a powerful tool for confidence building and stress reduction (gardening has been shown to reduce the stress hormone cortisol). It also ignites an awareness of personal responsibility and environmental awareness.
Published in the Journal of Therapeutic Horticulture, a 2010 study at a juvenile rehabilitation center with a gardening program showed that horticulture therapy helped students view themselves more positively and better manage their emotions and behavior.
Journal of Therapeutic Horticulture