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NC State Extension

Healing/Therapy/Ability Programs

Two young women in the garden

Image by John Murphy

Horticultural Therapy*

Horticultural therapy is the engagement of a client in horticultural activities facilitated by a trained therapist to achieve specific and documented treatment goals. Horticultural therapy programs can be found in a wide variety of healthcare, rehabilitative, and residential settings.

Types of Programs

Therapeutic Horticulture

Therapeutic Horticulture uses plants and plant-related activities to improve human well-being. This type of program may be found in a wide variety of healthcare, rehabilitative, and residential settings.

Social Horticulture

Social or Community Horticulture is a recreational activity related to plants and gardening. No treatment goals are defined, no therapist is present, and the focus is on social interaction and horticulture activities. A typical community garden or garden club is a good example of a social horticulture setting.

Vocational Horticulture

Vocational Horticulture programs provide training that enables individuals to work in the horticulture industry professionally, either independently or semi-independently. Vocational horticultural programs may be found in schools, residential facilities, rehabilitation facilities, or prisons among others.

*  This information provided by the American Horticultural Therapy Association

Horticultural Therapy Programs in North Carolina

Henderson County

  • Bullington Gardens, Hendersonville, NC – Programs for children, adults and seniors with special needs.

New Hanover County

  • The Ability Garden, Wilmington, NC –  for groups and individuals who have a variety of physical and sensory abilities

Orange County

  • NC Botanical Garden, Chapel Hill, NC On-site programs for persons with dementia, depression, developmental disabilities, eating disorders, mental illness, or traumatic brain injury. Consultation and support services including accessible garden design, plant selection, activity analysis, and program planning. “Healing and Hope through Science” outreach program that serves hospitalized children. Annual training to persons who will assist in the implementation of therapeutic horticulture programs. Mentor hort therapy Interns.
  • Transplanting Traditions, Chapel Hill, NC –  Transplanting Traditions Community Farm provides agricultural and entrepreneurial education to limited resource refugee farmers at its 4-acre incubator site.

 Wake County

  • Hands-on Nursery, Raleigh, NC – Hands-on Nursery is a partnership between NC State Horticultural Science students and participants in the Horticultural Therapy Program at Wake Enterprises. The nursery is managed by students taking Nursery Management (HS 411) and Nursery Production (HS 151) and Wake Enterprises. Students select, propagate, and grow all the plants that we have for sale. Students, staff, faculty and members of the community can purchase these plants for pick up on Tuesday between 12:00 p.m. and 3:00 p.m. at the Horticulture Field Lab. We are also happy to make donations of plants to not-for-profit organizations and for educational purposes.