What is horticulture therapy?
People and plants have long been connected. Horticulture therapy uses the power of plants and gardening activities to promote healing and further physical, emotional, and cognitive therapy goals.
At Ranken Jordan, a registered horticulture therapist partners with recreation therapists as part of therapy and rehabilitation. Horticulture therapists are educated and trained in plant science, human science and the application of horticultural therapeutic practices.
How can horticulture therapy benefit my child?
Horticulture therapy offers many benefits to children emotionally, physically, socially and cognitively. It is an uplifting activity that improves children’s overall well-being.
The therapeutic benefits of working in a garden have been documented since ancient times. Research studies have proven that horticulture therapy supports recovery and improves mood. In addition, this therapy can help strengthen muscles and hand and finger flexion, improve coordination, balance and endurance, and improve problem solving and other cognitive abilities. It also reduces stress, relaxes children and provides opportunities to socialize.
The body, mind and spirit benefit through passive or active involvement in horticulture therapy.
What do children do in horticulture therapy at Ranken Jordan?
Children participate in horticulture therapy all around Ranken Jordan, both inside and outside. This therapy is an essential part of our commitment to Care Beyond the Bedside and is another pathway to healing.
Horticulture therapy offers children a fun distraction from tests and treatments as they focus on positive outcomes of nurturing plants as they reap multiple therapeutic benefits.
Our designated horticulture therapist works with our recreation therapists to develop an outdoor garden each year. The garden areas are located outside of Warner’s Corner and on the 2nd floor deck overlooking the baseball field. We plant fruits, vegetables and herbs that are used in various ways. The garden is accessible for all children at Ranken Jordan.
Children are actively involved in planting and maintaining the garden. A portable grow cart enables us to grow plants from seeds year-round and then be able to start our outdoor garden from seedlings in the spring.
When the seedlings are ready, children transplant them to outdoor planters. The children and staff take care of the garden together. Once the fruits and vegetables are ready for harvest, some of these items are used in a cooking group while others are sold at the Ranken Jordan Patient Farmer’s Market.
Our herb garden is another source of pride and wonder for children. We plant and then dry herbs such as chamomile, geranium, mint and lemon balm. Once dry, we put these herbs in tea bags that the children seal and later enjoy as warm, soothing beverages.
We also plant and dry lavender, rosemary, dill, oregano and sage to mix with butters and cream cheese to make spreads that we later sell at the Ranken Jordan Patient Farmer’s Market.
Because children are actively involved in caring for the garden, they truly see “the fruits of their labor.” As the plants in the garden thrive, children build self-esteem by taking care of another living thing and build confidence at their success.
In addition, children learn where their food comes from and see the entire life cycle of the plant from seed to food to compost.
We are able to do all of these meaningful activities in horticulture therapy thanks to the generosity of the Margaret and Richard Riney Family.
A blooming partnership with the Missouri Botanical Garden
Ranken Jordan partnered with the Missouri Botanical Garden in St. Louis in planning the flora of all our beautiful outdoor spaces to create a multi-sensory experience for patients, families and staff to enjoy by ensuring plants are appealing to the eyes, touch and smell.
The Missouri Botanical Garden’s mission to discover and share knowledge about plants and their environment in order to preserve and enrich life complements Ranken Jordan’s goals in helping children heal.
During the summer growing season, the Missouri Botanical Garden also provides educational opportunities each week for children to learn more about the plants and how to grow the garden.
To learn more about horticulture therapy, please contact us at (314) 872-6448.