“I came to the farm in the spring of 2015….I took to it right away and still feel a sense of relief when I arrive. Horticulture Therapy became a big part of my life when I was really struggling with my mental illness. It gave me a purpose and a place to retreat.”—Client, Horticultural Therapy Program
This summer, our Horticultural Therapy program received a grant from Strowd Roses Foundation to pursue a research study at the Farm at Penny Lane, one of its outreach locations. Located on 40 acres in northern Chatham County, the Farm uses a holistic and sustainable approach to enhance the quality of life of individuals with severe and persistent mental illness by offering opportunities to become healthier and more self-sufficient. Horticultural therapy has been a key component of the initiative since the Farm broke ground in 2012.
Sally Haskett, Horticultural Therapy Program Manager at the Garden, meets with group members weekly at the Farm to share in the progress of plants they have sown and tended. While learning about seasonal horticultural topics, nutrition and environmental concerns, participants become part of this growing and inclusive farm community. Participants are clients of the UNC Center for Excellence in Community Mental Health, and most are referred by clinicians at the Center.
Starting last spring, Sally began collecting data that documents participants’ experiences at the Farm. While anecdotal evidence abounds on the physical, social, emotional and cognitive benefits of horticultural therapy, documented research is sparse. This grant will allow for refinement of data collection measures. More money is needed for data analysis. The goal is to generate sufficient data to support making horticultural therapy a reimbursable expense with third party payers. In this way more people in our community and nationwide will have access to this innovative, life-changing therapy.
Please consider joining our support team! Contact Sally Haskett at Haskett.email.unc.edu to learn more.