Article By Lucinda Greene, Pat Giarritano, and Debbie Moody
Sixteen Colorado Master Gardener (CMG) and Apprentice Master Gardener (ApMG) volunteers participate in Horticulture Therapy programs in Arapahoe County. There are two active programs, one at Craig Rehabilitation Hospital in Englewood, and one at the Colorado Center for the Blind in Littleton. In 2018, 448 volunteer hours were donated to serving citizens with disabilities in these two programs.
At Craig Hospital, volunteers help patients with spinal cord and brain injuries through structured horticulture therapy and gardening program activities. CMG volunteers in this program undergo additional training provided by Craig Hospital staff to work effectively with these patients. The Arapahoe County volunteers provide detailed plant and horticulture knowledge to the horticulture therapy staff and connect patients to Extension resources in their home communities. The volunteers help individuals learn to use adaptive tools to support their new or continued interest in gardening. At Craig Hospital, therapeutic recreation through activities like gardening are integral to the entire rehabilitation process for patients. Volunteers work with both patients and families to teach activities that can be enjoyable for each patient to do at home.
At the Colorado Center for the Blind, volunteers help students learn how to grow and harvest vegetables, herbs and ornamentals for use and enjoyment in their own kitchens and homes. As part of the Center’s residential Independence Training Program, students use the skills learned in the education provided by Master Gardeners in Arapahoe County to grow their own food as part of their path to independent living without sight.