Intro to Therapeutic Horticulture 2019-09-19T13:07:33+00:00

Intro to Therapeutic Horticulture Course

This course is designed to introduce participants to the growing field of Horticultural Therapy in which gardens and garden based activities are designed to support the physical, mental and social health of individuals.  Studies show that gardening is a valuable way to improve and maintain physical and mental health, bring communities together and aid rehabilitation.  Gardens and garden based activities are increasingly being used in settings and services such as hospitals, schools, Aged Care, Disability, Migrant settlement, Youth and Justice, and Mental Health.

The course will explore a range of aspects of both garden and activity design such as understanding client needs, rehabilitation, community gardens, working with all senses, catering for mobility issues and includes a visit to SEEDS Communal Garden which is located within Milparinka Disability Services.

The course will also provide an opportunity for participants to explore training, volunteering and employment pathways in allied fields such as Horticulture, Permaculture, Leisure and Health, Community Services.

Testimonials from our 2018 participants:

“I have already gained employment in the field – working as a support worker in a community garden/disability service – this is a direct result of this course and the contacts I’ve made.”

“(I gained) confidence, life skills, community, inspiration and networking.  It was even better than expected.”

“(I gained) direction in career and further studies I want to do.”

“Thank you for this opportunity to grow and become more confident.”

“The course was a “great taste test of things that can then be taken further.”

“good intro to the field… increased awareness of opportunities for future pathways.”

 “(Gained the awareness of) the possibilities of Hort Therapy.  I am inspired.”

“A stepping stone into a new emerging industry.  Loved the course.”

“Confidence to further my career path and skill development.”

“Loved [the trainer’s] passion and how much they were willing to share.”

“I found it to be engaging, inspiring and informative.  Feeling empowered to follow my interests and engage in innovative community programs.”

* This is an ACFE Approved Pre-accredited Course where the cost is subsidised for eligible participants. ACFE Information and Eligibility.

Justin Calverley is a horticulturalist and permaculturist with over 20 years experience and will be the lead trainer for the Urban Farmer course. He has extensive knowledge and experience in permaculture, garden design, organic gardening and native bushfood plants. He specialises in edible gardens and is an expert in fruit tree cultivation and pruning. For over 10 years Justin has taught workshops at CERES in sustainable gardening and permaculture. Justin was a regular broadcaster on 3RRR’s ‘Dirty Deeds” and “Breakfasters”, is a presenter on Ch 31’s “ The Garden Tap” and author of The Urban Farmer.

Michelle Casamento has a Social Sciences back ground and long history working with disadvantaged groups and networks in the Community Services sector.  Including 19 years’ direct client service delivery, managing and supervising homeless programs in the North East of Melbourne.

Michelle is a passionate gardener, currently developing her horticulture skills through various courses at CERES.  She understands our connection with nature and how gardening enhances health and wellbeing on an individual and community level.  Michelle is inspired by current trends in Horticulture as therapeutic means to local food production working towards more socially inclusive and sustainable communities.  She is currently involved with organizations who provide therapeutic horticulture programs and urban food production to support disadvantaged groups.

Next course commences Wednesday 9th October 2019

Sessions Outline:

Introduction to Therapeutic Horticulture

  •       What is Therapeutic Horticulture and differences to Horticultural Therapy.
  •       Applications and benefits of Therapeutic Horticulture & nature based activities.
  •       Connecting with nature through sensory processes & mindfulness.

Understanding Client Needs & Supporting Diversity

  •        Understanding Client’s needs & abilities.
  •        What diversity means and how to support it in this context.
  •        Potential challenging behaviours & engagement opportunities in the garden.

Community Gardens

  •        Different Community Garden models.
  •        Establishing and identifying key elements in Community Gardens.
  •        Site visit to SEEDS Communal Garden.

Writing and Facilitating Therapeutic Horticulture Programs

  •        The planning process; values, key objectives and elements of a program.
  •        Planning activities; practicalities, preparation, adjustments, feedback & evaluation.
  •        Facilitator framework and qualities.

Sessions involve class discussion and group work activities

Design Fundamentals

  •       Creating a client brief
  •       Site analysis
  •       Design features for consideration

At end of session we do a mud map specific to varying client needs using all the theory covered earlier in the day

Sensory Gardens

  •       Exploring senses
  •       Sensory walk
  •       Understanding each of our senses and how they can effect mood

We re address our mud maps and focus on appropriate alterations to highlight the gardens sensory experiences.

Kitchen Gardens

  •        Benefits of growing food
  •        How and where to grow edible plants
  •        Practical applications for varied client groups

Bulk of the day conducting practical exercises of building and planting gardens as well as plant propagation.


  •        Industry Guest speaker
  •        Exploring industry entry pathways including further learning and volunteering
  •        Group discussion of where to from here and map individuals possible pathways.
** A certificate will be issued upon completion of at least 75% of the course
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Course Dates:

Friday 5th July – Friday 23rd August 2019

Wednesday 9th October – Wednesday 27th November 2019

This course runs from 10am to 3pm

Course Costs:

Full – $595

CERES Member / Concession – $530.00

ACFE Eligible Price – $63

Contact to check eligibility for ACFE place

ACFE Information and Eligibility

Book Here