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Horticulture as Therapy in Toronto: Unearthing Healing and Wellness in a Post-Industrial Setting

Horticulture as Therapy in Toronto: Unearthing Healing and Wellness in a Post-Industrial Setting

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Title: Horticulture as Therapy in Toronto: Unearthing Healing and Wellness in a Post-Industrial Setting
Author: Fontaine, James
Abstract: This paper explores how community service providers in Toronto use Horticultural therapy
to engage with local ecological landscape in supporting client rehabilitation and wellness. A
qualitative Deep Ecology theoretical framework through an inductive, revised, grounded theory
research methodology was used. This research hopes to further the understanding of how
community program service providers could facilitate therapeutic processes through engaging
with ecology in Toronto's urban landscape. This study strived to deepen understanding of
benefits in the use of land and environment for community and therapeutic programming in an
urban setting. Data was collected through semi-structured, interviews with six service providers
who are facilitators or developers of wellness programs which offer forms of horticulture for
therapeutic benefits. Subsequent questions inquired how service providers see urban issues as
intersecting into their work in the metropolitan context of Toronto. Providers expressed how
their work in urban environments enables, in their words, the creation of natural oases.
Adaptability is a strong theme evident in the year-round horticultural programming available in
Toronto’s temperate climate. A significant age range (0-95) and diversity of populations was found to access needs-specific horticultural programs in institutional and community settings. Connectedness appeared as a strong guiding principle in local horticulture therapy programming. Varied critical perspectives were offered by the professionals on the distancing or entrenchment into the naming of their programs as a ‘therapy’. Food production in horticulture and its power of bringing people and cultures together in Toronto’s metropolitan environment emerged as a theme. Horticultural wellness programs access local natural resources, topography and waterways to broaden the practice of counselling for trauma, grief, death, addiction and life-changing experiences. Implications for broader acknowledgement of environment and occupied landscapes in Canadian social work practice, theory, and research are discussed
Subject: Horticulture Therapy
ecological landscape
rehabilitation
wellness
therapeutic programming
trauma
grief
death
addiction
Type: Other
URI: http://hdl.handle.net/10315/34107
Date: 2017

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