Garden for Your Health

Horticultural Therapy 

By Community Outreach Intern

The North Bay Heritage Gardeners are a group of community-minded people working together to improve the Heritage Gardens beautification, promote horticultural stewardship and encourage people to engage in our environmental program.

NBHG works diligently to promote our 50+ garden beds along the two-mile walk that follows Lake Nipissing. The garden beds are maintained by more than 200 volunteers, many of whom amass valuable friendships and the program can provide a sense of clarity and comfort.

While the volunteer program is a tool used to providing knowledge, insight and horticultural education to our gardeners, it is also used to aid stress and acts as a progressive form of therapy. More commonly referred to as Horticultural Therapy, this practice is used to help the well-being of its participants through the interaction between human and plant. The Canadian Horticultural Therapy Association is an organization that works to promote the formal practice of horticultural therapy by providing information, resources and support to their members. According to CHTA, their goal is to increase the awareness of horticultural therapy as a technique.

Sometimes called “Gardening Therapy,” the activity is slowly gaining social consciousness as it is known to elicit positive emotions in the body. Gardening may be just a hobby for many of the Heritage Gardeners in their personal life, but some join for several other reasons. Some gardeners volunteer to meet people, while others join to become more active in our community. The program offers a range of benefits, one ultimately being its therapeutic properties.

Although Horticultural Therapy is traditionally used as a professional practice facilitated by therapists, the Heritage Gardeners are not affiliated with any formal therapists or healthcare facility. The practice of gardening therapy in our volunteer program is merely an additional benefit for some gardeners who may be feeling stressed or experiencing minor setbacks. NBHG recognizes the benefits of gardening and always works to promote a healthy and safe environment.

‘Happiness and positive planting’ is one of our many mantras, and our volunteer program is highly sought after. Originally starting small, the Heritage Gardeners’ program was born in 1997, cultivating the way for a living classroom along our Heritage Gardens. On average, more than 300 volunteers bring our Waterfront to life every year, and it is they who create change in our community. Our community is only as strong as the individuals who live in it, and our message behind why we are here drives our passion. Community creates change.

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