Today was the first day I, Jennifer, started my Horticultural Therapy volunteering. I have had the amazing honour of becoming the intern for this year with The Julien Project.This is so exciting for me as it collects a number of different streams of interest under one umbrella.
I was introduced to horticultural therapy last year by Zora, an urban farmer in Toronto that works will all manner of people doing absolutely amazing work. She also made a number of Living Food Boxes available to urban dwellers so they could grow some of their own food.
When I was first the information about hort. therapy I though it was interesting but I wasn’t ready for it yet. I was still working on other things and managed to accomplish some of them. I managed to finish my Chartered Herbalism Diploma, plan our market garden for this coming season, start teaching through the Upper Grand District School Board, processed our own wool, acquire a home-grown milk supply, and a bunch of other things.
Horticultural therapy was still in the back of my mind. I even signed up for some courses but they were canceled last minute so couldn’t.
Completing all those things really made me think about the direction all this was going. I enjoyed the teaching but lacked the skills to be able to do it really well. I have always admired great teachers. Ones that are able to teach without letting their students know they are teaching. These teachers make things interesting and engaging and leave people wanting more.
I also really love doing what we are doing here. I love the animals, the plants, the trees, the learning, the daily change, the observation, the creativity involved, even the challenges are interesting. I have never lost interest in our little piece of land nor explaining to people the amazing things that happen here, or on any piece of healthy land.
Another pivotal experience of the last year was creating murals with the Bob Rumball Association of the Deaf. I helped create two murals through their Sensory Exploration Arts Program. I found every person I worked with inspiring and incredibly creative. Working with Corene, the Art Therapist and the people in the program I was shown a part of myself that I had long forgotten about. One that loved to help others. I am an artist and could easily have decided to become an Art therapist (and I did think of it Corene was that inspiring) I wanted to explore using the land, soil, seeds, food, and nature for therapy. After all it is what I did for myself without even knowing it. As someone that had suffered from a disabling eating disorder and bouts of depression for over 20 years I can appreciate the value of alternative therapies combined with more common ones. It was reconnecting with food, and through that I was able to reconnect with myself. I didn’t even know it until one day I felt confident enough to embark on this internship with a huge desire to help others.
I now have to make sure that I don’t get too far ahead of myself. I am just taking one day at a time. Today I got great joy in being with others that also got great joy in working with the soil. This has made me very grateful for what I am about to embark on. I am a very lucky lady!!!