Master Gardeners’ horticultural therapy project blossoming

Published 12:00 am Sunday, June 20, 2004

Special to the News-Herald

A year ago, Don knew nothing about horticultural therapy or gardening in raised flower beds.

Earlier this month, he was recognized as the outstanding volunteer gardener for his work in the horticultural therapy beds outside Morgan Memorial Library. Don is a client – or as the agency prefers, consumer – of the Western Tidewater Community Services Board.


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A June 7 reception, held near the library’s raised beds, marked the first anniversary of the Suffolk Master Gardeners’ horticultural therapy project. The organization presented Don and other consumers from the mental health agency with certificates recognizing their service to the program.

Horticultural therapy is a &uot;program that uses plants and gardening activities to help those with physical, mental, and /or developmental disabilities improve their bodies, minds and spirits,&uot; said Kathryn Pruden, who spearheaded the project.

Horticultural therapy puts the individual in a care-giving role, helping promote confidence and a sense of purpose, she said.

&uot;The raised bed gardens at Morgan Library are not only beautiful, but they demonstrate that individuals with special needs or disabilities can garden too,&uot; said Pruden. &uot;The beds are a convenient height and accessible to people in wheelchairs or with other mobility issues.&uot;

Pruden and other master gardeners helped construct, plant, and maintain the raised beds. The master gardeners and CSB consumers meets once or twice a week to work on their garden.

During a ceremony at 10 a.m. Monday, the city’s Clean Community Commission will recognize the Western Tidewater consumers and the Suffolk Master Gardeners for their services.

The public is invited to view the therapy garden, as well as a raised bed garden at the Learning Garden, a series of special theme gardens outside the city’s Human Resources Building at Market and Wellons streets.

The Master Gardener certification program, administered through the Virginia Tech Cooperative Extension Service, requires classroom and hands-on training as well as ongoing community service.

For details on the Suffolk Master Gardeners or the horticultural therapy program, call the extension office: 923-2051.