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UCCE and UC Master Gardeners Bring Horticultural Therapy Program to a Girls' Rehabilitation Facility in San Diego County

The Issue

Residents at a Girls' Rehabilitation Facility (GRF) in San Diego County attend school on the grounds. The facility offers an intensive program focusing on cognitive restructuring, but the asphalted area outside the buildings was seldom used. The Master Gardeners offered help in gardening and pest management education, which led to a multiagency effort to improve the grounds.

What Has ANR Done?

With financial support from the county's Health and Human Services Agency, UCCE joined forces with the Master Gardeners and the San Diego County GRF, the San Diego County Agricultural Weights and Measures, and representatives from the Sustainable Living Institute to create a garden and greenhouse at the facility. Staff from these agencies share in educating the young women on how to design a garden, build healthy soil, water wisely, manage pests, and handle food safely.

The Payoff

UCCE Promotes Educational Activities, Community Life and Outdoor Experiences for Young Women at a GRF

Ten young women detained at the GRF participated in designing, building and selecting plants for the garden. Their input encouraged the rest of the young women to become involved. Residents in the program work in the garden in small groups with Master Gardeners from UCCE. They learn to make healthy snacks with the food they grow, and they recognize that gardens integrate science, math, social studies and language arts. They also learn about the positive results of collaboration, communication and teamwork, and a healthy, active lifestyle. Organizers of the horticultural therapy program hope that the success at these schools can be replicated at other sites in the Juvenile Court and Community School (JCCS) system.

Clientele Testimonial

"I want to give a heartfelt thank you…for helping us with our garden. The timing of your arrival and our work together was very therapeutic for my girls and me, very stupendous. In fact, I know that we will reap the benefits for years to come. You each have planted a seed of love and compassion in our hearts." —Tyra Myles, Supervising Probation Officer


Supporting Unit: San Diego County

UCCE San Diego County: James A. Bethke, Floriculture and Nursery Advisor, jabethke@ucanr.edu; and Patti Wooten-Swanson, Nutrition and Financial Education Advisor, pwswanson@ucanr.edu; Scott Parker, Program Representative III, saparker@ucanr.edu