Horticultural Therapy

I recently came away from a retreat Sara taught with some thoughts about healing and how it relates to вЂ?The Kingdom of God is Like a Farmer’ that I would like to share.

My profession is agriculture (Agriculture as defined by Merriam-Webster: the science, art, or practice of cultivating the soil, producing crops, and raising livestock and in varying degrees the preparation and marketing of the resulting products: farming)or more specifically, horticulture (Horticulture: the science and art of growing fruits, vegetables, flowers, or ornamental plants).

I have been thinking about how many �farming’ words are found in the scriptures and realized I can’t pick up my Bible without reading such agricultural words as wheat, herbs, trees, plow, vineyard, harvest, seed, fruit, fish…and on and on. These words must be important to God as He communicates with us by using them. The Bible says He is our Healer and that �He sent His Word and healed them’ (Psalm 107:20). It seems to me that acquiring an understanding of these and connecting to them will help bring wholeness into our lives.

In Needles blog, �Burdened’, she spoke about stress and the need for relief from it. We know that stress is one of many things that brings physical and mental sickness into our lives and that we live in a world where we search for therapies to help us.

One of the successful therapies used for years by such well known psychiatric institutions as The Menninger Clinic and Friends Hospital is Horticultural Therapy. The American Horticultural Therapy Association website gives the following definition of horticultural therapy as: “A process in which plants and gardening activities are used to improve the body, mind and spirits of people. HT is an effective and beneficial treatment for people of all ages, backgrounds, and abilities. It is: “a discipline that uses plants, gardening activities and the natural world as vehicles for professionally conducted programs in therapy and rehabilitation. Horticultural therapy (HT) is applied in a variety of types of medical and social institutions including hospitals, correctional facilities, and vocational programs. The therapeutic benefits of horticulture are many. Social development, psychological well-being, and physical rehabilitation are enhanced.”

The Holden Arboretum, Chicago Botanical Gardens, The Betty Ford Alpine Gardens, vocational programs, nursing homes, drug rehabilitation centers as well as hundreds of hospitals, all incorporate Horticultural Therapy in their rehabilitative programs.

That Great Physician, Jesus, spoke often in agricultural parables. I believe He is the Master Horticultural Therapist. I see Horticultural Therapy as being therapeutic because it connects to and involves people in tangible illustrations of Agriculture. Through sowing seeds, watering a plant, digging in the soil, arranging flowers, picking a ripe tomato or planning a garden, people don’t just learn the words or parables they experience them with their five senses.

As a graduate student in horticulture, I wrote my dissertation on Horticultural Therapy and eventually became a registered Horticultural Therapist with hopes of helping others through this therapeutic medium. Little did I know that years later I would need this therapy myself in order to be healed from anxiety and depression. Over time I have seen young and old gain healing from it also. Now as a high school horticulture teacher, I see its effects daily: helping to heal anger and emotional pain; improving organizational and communication skills; boosting confidence and self-esteem; and providing physical benefits.

If, as scripture says, �The Kingdom of God is within you’, and �The Kingdom of God is like a farmer’ than by connecting to �farming’ and using Horticultural Therapy we can connect, understand and become whole ourselves.

Published by Debi

I live in Leesburg, Virginia where I teach high school students in the Agriculture Department. Additionaly, I am self-employed as a horticultural consultant and landscape designer. "Beefriend the Bees!" and "Neither Here Nor There" are children's books I wrote and illustrated available from Amazon (http://www.amazon.com/s/ref=nb_sb_noss_1?url=search-alias=aps&field-keywords=Deborah Chaves&x=12&y=25. Other interests include singing and playing my guitar (also have a CD for sale on Amazon called "Gardening Therapy"); walking my American Bulldog, Cloud and Olde English Bulldogge, Sky; staying active in my local church, and blogging on the www.thedailylily.com.

4 thoughts on “Horticultural Therapy

  1. beautifully said! This makes me think about how many times and things I have pushed away or ran from or used for excuses that could have been healing for my soul. Like holding healing of all sorts in my hand and not even knowing it was there for me.

    I sure enjoy the beauty of the plants and flowers. The health and joy of the food. The wisdom and knowledge from the farmer and the educational and other related benefits from the prosperity of the farmer. But many times left God out and He was there all along.

    Thanks for the light to see and the book to read to enlighten and bring joy and respect to the skill and tool God placed in the universe for all to enjoy. Farming!

  2. When I was a girl I grew up on a farm. I loved gardening. I loved the smell of fresh tomatoes, onions, peppers, pumpkins, beans, potatoes, etc. I loved to sit down with a knife and cut each and eat it. I loved the lay of land with its rolling hills and meandering creek which suddenly cascaded down hills and flowed into a pond. What heavenly landscaping and beauty I thought, healing to the eye and refreshing to the brain.

    As I got older I had my own garden and taught my children and my friends’ children how to grow vegetables. I was amazed that they took to gardening with the same enthusiasm that I did.

    Today as a teacher my students love planting anything and dissecting them. They love matching seeds to the final product. They love to taste and explore plants. They love to see what soils and lighting affect the growth of plants the most.

    Much is to be learned by studying agriculture. Also many metaphors and similes can be derived from them just like Jesus did through His teachings.

    1. Rena, you got it! You heard and you acted. You are a great farmer and artist and writer. Put it all together and it spells success.

      I love it that your creativity is flowing once again!!!!

  3. Debi,
    It is so beautiful how you have illustrated the relationship between
    horticulture and God. Even the plants, flowers, and trees grow upward toward
    heaven, as if they are reaching for God’s touch….the Great Physician!
    Horticultural Therapy is definitely healing!! Thanks for sharing and for
    getting your education in such a rewarding field!

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: