Therapeutic Horticulture: Community Work Experience

April 28, 2023 Angie Andrade , Associate Director (Therapeutic Horticulture)

Horticulture can mean many things for many people but for a small group of volunteers at the Gardens horticulture is a way to learn and practice job skills. The therapeutic horticulture team has been busy developing new partnerships in the community to provide a safe place for people with disabilities to learn and grow their vocational skills. 

teen watering plant

One of these partnerships is with The Joshua School. The Joshua School serves individuals with autism spectrum disorder and developmental disabilities from ages two to 21. The school is committed to helping students achieve the highest quality of life through its many programs. Their Transition Program targets skills that are necessary for success in life after The Joshua School. Some students in this program are working at the Gardens. Volunteers work in the Morrison Discovery Center greenhouse located in Mordecai Children’s Garden, where they can practice proper watering techniques, cleaning, propagation, transplanting and pest control. Among tackling the many greenhouse tasks, volunteers also work on individual goals like communication skills, staying focused, following directions and using appropriate greetings. The Gardens’ horticultural therapist has these goals in mind when planning work duties for the day. Setting up the space with limited barriers, using adaptive tools when necessary and choosing the right tasks for each individual person is all taken into consideration for maximum success. 

morrison discovery center

Morrison Discovery Center

These types of work opportunities are important for organizations like The Joshua School and for the lives of people with disabilities. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, just 31.4% of adults ages 16 to 64 with a disability are currently employed compared to 72.5% of adults the same age without a disability. The Gardens recognizes the importance of creating this learning space and will continue providing valuable horticulture work experience for all people. 


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