Journal of Therapeutic Horticulture 25.2 - 2015


The Effect of School Gardening Activities on Visual-Motor Integration of Pre-School and Kindergarten Students
M.R. Baker, T. M. Waliczek and J. M. Zajicek

Visual-motor integration has been shown to influence childhood development. Historic anecdotal evidence has supported gardening as being a positive activity to help aid in fine and gross motor skill coordination in children. The main objective of this study was to analyze difference in visual-motor integration in pre-school and kindergarten-aged children (target 4-6 years) who gardened and those who did not. The Beery Test of Visual-Motor Integration (VMI) Short-Form was the instrument used to quantitatively measure students’ levels of visual-motor integration. In 19 classrooms, 484 students were tested at the beginning and end of their spring school semester. Throughout the semester, control group students studied using a traditional school curriculum while treatment group students participated in gardening as part of their lessons. Parents of participating students received a questionnaire which asked about other hobbies in which children were involved which may have contributed to students’ visual-motor development, as well as asked demographic information about their child. Forty participating teachers completed an online survey regarding their classroom activities and gardening experiences. Statistical analysis of pre-test and post-test score means revealed students in the treatment group maintained their level of visual-motor integration over the testing period, while the control group students’ level of visual-motor integration declined over the testing period. Children involved in the free-lunch program maintained their visual-motor integration scores over the treatment period, when compared to those not enrolled in the free-lunch program, indicating that economically-disadvantaged children may respond especially well to gardening programs in the classroom.

Protocols for Plant-Cart Horticultural Therapy
Ciri J. Malamud, MA, CRC, CSW, LCADC

Horticultural Therapy (HT) has been utilized by patients as an integral component of both their in-patient and out-patient rehabilitation programs for over 50 years (Messer Diehl, 2007) for attaining their long-term treatment plan goals through graduated objectives while working with plants individually or in small groups. Bedside plant-cart HT was developed as a model to bring therapeutic plant-related activities to patients who are unable to attend HT groups (Davis, 1997). Plant-cart HT is defined as therapeutic plant-related activities for which lesson plans have been designed by a horticultural therapist to engage patients’ participation on five crucial levels (cognitive, social, psychological, sensory and physical) to assure safety, quality, appropriateness and portability, relative to their treatment plans. This article summarizes the protocols for implementing a sample lesson plan for “Plant-Cart” bedside and small group sessions, provided by the Horticultural Therapy Services Department (HTSD) at NYULMC/Rusk Rehabilitation, a major, urban, academic medical center. It describes the patient population and their needs served in the rehabilitation programs, with recommendations for future applications and study.
Key Words: Horticulture, Horticulture Activities, Horticulture Practice, Horticultural Therapy, Rehabilitation, Well-Being.

Horticulture Therapy Improves the Body, Mind and Spirit
Lucas Monroe, LCSW

The gardening project was initiated to offer a unique way for clients to receive mental health treatment. The professionals involved shared an appreciation for the ways that gardening connected the participants to a simpler time. Before the age of psychopharmacology and the widespread use of psychotherapy, clinicians turned to the land and to nature as a way of bringing peace and serenity to those that suffer. Historical records support its effectiveness. The use of horticulture as an agent of peace and therapeutic recovery dates as far back as 2000 BC in Mesopotamia (Sempik & Aldridge, 2006). Although according to Foucault (2009), the origin of horticulture therapy for individuals suffering from mental illness, is rooted in the accounts of Benjamin Rush, who was also credited as the father of psychiatry. Rush observed and documented improvements to individuals living in psychiatric asylums that worked in gardens, and grew their own food in the early 1800s.

It was believed that patients of these early psychiatric centers benefited from horticulture because it stimulated their senses and distracted them from symptoms (Bishop, 2009). Patients also developed self-esteem, a sense of belonging and a structured routine (Foucault, 2009). Rush utilized garden activities such as vigorous digging to treat agitation and mania which are symptoms of Bipolar Disorder (Parr, 2008). The effectiveness of horticulture therapy later influenced community mental health with the advent of almshouses and institutions that were located in the rural countryside throughout the United States. These hospitals had patients working in gardens and with livestock as a central tenet of their treatment (Sempik & Aldridge, 2006). This project brought an historical perspective because it took place on the property of the County Almshouse where individuals with mental illness lived, farmed and raised livestock for many years in the early 1900s. In a similar fashion, this project aimed to increase physical activity, improve social skills through interactions with their peers, and develop a communal cooperation with other participants. The site was serene with lush wooded areas and large open spaces that were once used for farming.

Book Review: The 50 Mile Bouquet: Seasonal, Local and Sustainable Flowers
Reviewed by Lesley Fleming, MA, HTR