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Grow your garden connections at Earthwise

Earthwise hosting its Garden Buddies mentor training program
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Submitted by Earthwise The Garden Buddies program not only helps seniors stay active through gardening, it helps them make meaningful connections with others.

Earthwise is celebrating 10 years of therapeutic horticulture programs in the garden.

Gardening and connecting with nature are now widely recognized as effective tools in promoting long-term health and well-being. Since initiating regular therapeutic horticulture programming, Earthwise has helped hundreds of people of all ages harness the healing power of nature.

Earthwise Society’s Garden Buddies program uses therapeutic horticulture to improve health and well-being for seniors. Trained mentors are paired with seniors to share gardening and other nature-based activities outdoors in the beautiful Earthwise Garden. Isolation is a problem affecting many older adults in our community, especially those who live alone. The Garden Buddies program not only helps seniors stay active through gardening, it helps them make meaningful connections with others.

Earthwise Society is inviting anyone who is interested in learning more about therapeutic horticulture and helping out with Garden Buddies, to attend a one-hour introductory Zoom session that will explore the many benefits of therapeutic horticulture and provide an overview of Earthwise and the Garden Buddies program. Those who would like to become volunteer mentors will then take part in a free five-week mentor training program.

The training program is a series of webinars and hands-on workshops that will teach mentors about the history and value of therapeutic horticulture.

Mentors will learn skills and adaptations for gardening with seniors and how to use therapeutic horticulture to help provide healing and well-being to vulnerable people of all ages. Training also includes an introduction to horticulture at the Earthwise Garden and tips on how to develop fun and engaging activities that take advantage of the garden setting.

The program will be led by Katie McGillivray, a Registered Horticultural Therapist, who is keen to raise awareness of the powerful benefits of connecting people with nature.

“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 introductory Mentor Training session will take place via Zoom on April 12, from 5 to 6 p.m. and is open to people of all ages. Those who wish to continue with the training program will be asked to commit to 40 hours volunteering over the course of the season.

For more information and to register, email: info@earthwisesociety.bc.ca.