Horticultural therapy uses plants and gardening to support the therapeutic, rehabilitative, and restorative goals of participants. In my specific practice, I develop and facilitate horticultural activities that responds to collective trauma and violence held in individual bodies, centering somatics and a healing justice framework.1 While I am currently in the process of developing curriculum and practices for survivors of sexual violence as well as for individuals who have experienced trauma to the physical body, I also bring horticultural therapy practices to working in collective community with the understanding that personal transformation = social transformation; and that personal healing should be a right freely accessed to anyone and everyone. The below documentation is that of bringing horticultural therapy practices to the collective in the public and the commons. I am working on sharing a toolkit for horticultural therapy for individual and group uses, but please reach out to me in the interim to collaborate or for specific questions.2
I draw from both metaphor and embodied practice to create and facilitate horticultural therapy activities that nurture reflection, rehabilitation, and self-seeing in equal measure. For example, participants may find a resonance in the metaphors of seed dispersal while also affirming their own agency through germinating a seed and watching its growth. Goals in horticultural therapy may be social-emotional, physical, cognitive, interpersonal, or sensory. I typically center themes that utilize ethnobotany, herbal arts, gardening, plant morphology and behavior, and a general attuning to nature as teacher.
A key concept often cited in horticultural therapy studies, is that of biophillia–a term coined by naturalist Edward O. Wilson to define the innate tendency humans having in forging intimate connection to nature. This idea can and has been named in many ways long before Edward O. Wilson did, specifically by Indigenous peoples. While much healing can happen in both and measurable and metaphorical, some of the magic of horticultural therapy is the awe and wonder that unfolds in the unnameable and incalculable–a poetics in tending to the plants.
Healing Justice Framework as defined by Cara Page on www.transformtheHarm.com firstname.lastname@example.org