Journal of Therapeutic Horticulture 4 - 1989


The Need for Organized Information on Horticulture Projects Which Involve the Disabled Population in Developing Countries
Ann B. Parsons and P. Diane Relf, PhD, HTM

A need exists for a central database containing information on hor­ticultural therapy projects in developing countries. The lifestyles in many developing areas are primarily agricultural, and intensive cultural prac­tices are dependent upon horticultural crops. The term "horticultural therapy" applies to practices used by disabled persons. To facilitate fur­ther research, a listing of projects has been compiled and is offered for cooperative use and refinement. 

Horticultural Therapy Activities for Exceptional Children
Kathleen M. Doutt, HTR, Douglas L. Airhart, PhD, HTM, and Thomas W. Willis

In an enrichment pro gram developed for exceptional children by the Department of Curriculum and Instruction at Tennessee Technological University, an effective method of teaching was realized through the use of horticultural activities. Gifted children and children with learning dis­abilities were grouped to get her for classroom discussions and laboratory activities. Type I activities introduced abstract biological concepts, which were reinforced through various Type II activities of concrete horticul­tural skills. Children were encouraged to interact and assist each other to complete projects. This intermingling of academic abilities incited learning and provided a setting for improved self-esteem.

Horticultural Therapy and Asian Refugee Resettlement
John Tristan, MS, HTR, and Lucy Nguyen-Hong-Nhiem, PhD

Horticultural therapy was used to ease the acculturation difficulties of Asian refugees experiencing adjustment problems. The strong bond be­tween the individual and an environment of familiar plants was used as a focal point/or therapy. Direct involvement with tropical plant groups in a variety of activities was emphasized with a twofold goal: the reduction of anxiety/culture shock and the acquisition of basic work skills. Asian perspectives, therapy factors, specific activities, and the results obtained by the training methodology are reviewed.

The Development of an Empirical Instrument Designed to Measure the Effects of Horticultural Therapy
James A. Azar, PhD, and Thomas Conroy, MA

The objective of the project was to devise a rating scale that measures the effects of a horticultural therapy program. Items were written that ad­dressed cognitive, emotional, social and psychological factors. The hor­ticultural therapy staff rated patients assigned to their therapy groups with the questionnaire on two separate occasions. A series of item analyses were conducted in order to refine the instrument and to evaluate its psychometric properties. Based on 103 ratings of 43 participants, it was found that the rating scale had strong internal consistency (r=.947). The construct validity of the instrument was supported by a factor analysis. The items clustered around the following factors: basic work skills, community skills, communication skills, organizational skills and the ability to deal with authority. Future studies are discussed that aim to improve the psychometric soundness of the rating scale.

Evaluation of a Horticultural Therapy Program in a Short Term Psychiatric Ward
Sara Williams 

A process evaluation of a horticultural therapy program in a psychiatric ward of a university hospital was conducted. The study docu­mented the extent to which patients selected to participate in the group met the criteria of the target population. The majority of the participants met the indications for placement within the group. Participation in the horticulture group was seen to foster both social interaction and coopera­tive activities. Over 75% of the participants perceived the group to be both enjoyable and relaxing. More than half of the patients assumed the responsibility of watering and caring for their plants. The majority of the patients involved in the group perceived the program as beneficial and felt satisfaction in what they had accomplished. 

An Examination of Plant Density, Diversity, and Use in Honduran Home Gardens
Lynn Ellen Doxon, PhD, and Richard H. Mattson, PhD, HTM

This research study was conducted in Honduras with the assistance of the faculty and staff at the Pan American School of Agriculture. Seven­ty-five Honduran home gardens were analyzed in five geoclimatic loca­tions. The uses and types of plants found were catalogued and qualitative descriptions were made of 309 species found growing in home gardens. Sixty-four percent of these species were ornamentals, 25% were food plants, 10% were medicinal, and the remainder were grown for household, seasoning, or other uses. This research found that the com­plexities of Honduran home garden systems make a stable and reliable food production system. Traditional research oriented toward food production in developing countries has centered on commercially produced agronomic crops. It is hoped that the information presented through this paper will lead researchers to consider small diverse gardens as a viable tool in development efforts.