The University of Florida (UF) and the UF Department of Psychiatry has established an ongoing therapeutic horticulture program for people with depression. The therapeutic benefits of gardening have been documented for many years, our program began as recreational therapy for patients on Unit 52 at UF Health Shands. Recreational therapist Maggie Hannon began taking patients to the green house at UF’s Wilmont Gardens to cultivate plants as part of their therapy. The response from participants was so positive the program was opened to individuals in the community dealing with depression as a way to cope with their illness. Sessions are held twice a week at Wilmont Gardens, open and free to the public. The goal of the formal study is to evaluate the effectiveness of therapeutic horticulture for the treatment of depression and in helping to alleviate symptoms in patients with depression. Participants in the program have expressed many positive outcomes with their experiences thus far.
“Programs like this are opportunities for our patients to have a break from the hospital setting and to practice mindfulness: with the texture, the smells, and the colors that they are immersed in at the greenhouse. Not only that, many patients also tell me that this is a place that they can start forming positive memories and to develop hope.” – Chief Resident, San Chang, MD