Therapeutic gardening helps people connect with the healing elements of nature. Horticultural therapy helps clients develop new skills, while providing an opportunity to meditate, focus, and face the challenges of recovery.
Caring for plants and flowers puts our clients in a caregiver role, empowering them to create positive change in the world and in themselves. When they plant a seed, they reflect on the possibility of cultivating a new, beautiful future, even if they cannot see the changes immediately. Gardening can be hard work and require constant maintenance. Just as weeds must be maintained for flowers to grow, addicts must maintain themselves in our recovery program and invest the continual work needed to achieve success. As they care for nature, our clients care for themselves.
“Gardening is a great therapeutic help to recovering addicts and alcoholics. Working with living things inspires hope and teaches patience and persistence — two qualities those in recovery need to learn.” (Tina B. Tessina, PhD, aka “Dr. Romance,” psychotherapist.)
Retorno’s campus is dotted with all kinds of fruit trees planted by clients, including lemon, clementine, orange, and pomelo. Hundreds of flowers, both annuals and perennials, add color and life everywhere you turn. Depending on the season, the garden brims with fresh produce, such as lettuce and eggplant.
Retorno is located in Givat Shemesh, literally translated as “Sun Hill.” Plenty of fresh sunshine means our fruits and vegetables are naturally ripened to pack in nutrients. They are eaten fresh – no long, cold storage to leach out all the nutrition.
Watching a garden you’ve nurtured transform from a plot of empty soil into a vibrant ecosystem is an intensely satisfying accomplishment. Gardening creates a powerful sense of purpose. Literally tasting the fruits of your labor gives you hope that all your efforts in recovery will also bear fruit, and taste just as sweet.