Connecting with the natural world through gardening can have a profound effect on our bodies, both mentally and physically.
For years, Earthwise Society’s Therapeutic Horticulture programs have harnessed the intrinsic power of nature to provide healing and well-being to people in crisis. Seniors in particular often report experiencing measurable benefits from interacting with nature, from increased fitness to improved confidence and mental health.
Garden Buddies is a gardening together therapeutic horticulture program designed to improve physical activity, mental well-being, and social connectedness in isolated seniors. Seniors are paired with trained Garden Buddy mentors to participate in shared gardening and nature-based activities at home and at the Earthwise Garden.
In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, Earthwise has adapted the program to also include an interactive webinar format, bringing seniors together to cultivate their green thumbs from a distance.
The demand for the Garden Buddies program is high, and to keep up with that need, Earthwise is offering a free six-week mentor training program to teach new volunteers the necessary skills through a series of in-depth webinars.
Potential mentors will learn all about the Garden Buddies program and how to work with and empower seniors in the garden. They will also get some valuable tips on developing fun and engaging therapeutic horticulture activities, both in-person and virtual, geared at senior gardeners.
The program will be led by Katie McGillivray, a registered horticultural therapist and will include knowledgeable guest speakers, question and answer sessions, tools for reflective practice and evaluating programs, and more.
“What is so unique about Garden Buddies is that it is intergenerational and community-led,” says McGillivray. “When you see the exchange of knowledge and strong connections that form between mentors and participants in this program, it is clear that this program is not only about growing gardens, but growing friendships and community as well.”
The Garden Buddies Mentor Training program is open to anyone who is interested in learning more about the benefits of therapeutic horticulture and how it is used to promote health and well-being in people of all ages. Whether you are a past Garden Buddy Mentor and would like to brush up on your skills, a new potential mentor, or even if you are simply curious about how therapeutic horticulture could play a role in your life, the Garden Buddies Mentor Training program is for you.
The Garden Buddies Mentor Training program is completely virtual, and runs from 1 to 2 p.m. on Feb 28, and March 7, 9, 16, 21, and 23. For more information about the program, including the weekly topics, and to register, email: email@example.com.