WHEREAS, the New Jersey Department of Agriculture (NJDA) serves the entire agricultural and horticultural industry throughout the state by promoting the growing, selling, purchase, and consumption of locally grown food, fiber, and plant material; advocating for healthy consumption of locally grown food, fiber, and plant material; advocating for healthy and nutritional meals; and promoting outdoor recreational activities for all residents of New Jersey; and
WHEREAS, the NJDA recognizes that people benefit from plants, passively and actively, and that no one should be denied the benefits of working with, growing and harvesting plants; and
WHEREAS, the benefits of people-plant connections and interactions can be realized and achieved through active participation in the garden or through passive participation in, or visiting garden spaces; and
WHEREAS, Horticultural Therapy (HT) is recognized as a practical and viable treatment which uses plants and customized gardening activities to provide wide-ranging benefits for people in therapeutic, vocational and wellness programs; and
WHEREAS, HT and the therapeutic benefits of garden environments have been long established, as early as the 18th Century, when Dr. Benjamin Rush, a signer of the Declaration of Independence and the man recognized as the “Father of Modern Psychiatry,” was first to document the positive effect working in the garden had on individuals with mental illness; and
WHEREAS, HT garden techniques include, but are not limited to, sensory-stimulating environments with plants (vegetables, flowers, herbs) selected for fragrance, texture, and color; utilizing accessible greenhouses that bring the garden indoors for year-round enjoyment; constructing accessible entrances and paths in compliance with ADA regulations; utilizing raised beds, table trays, and adjustable adaptable work spaces; and adapting tools that are lightweight, brightly colored and interchangeable; and
WHEREAS, HT designs and programs can offer cognitive, social and physical benefits with year-round application indoors and outdoors, in schools, senior and community centers, adult day care, assisted living, nursing homes, rehabilitation facilities, hospitals, vocational schools, substance-abuse rehabilitation, family shelters and resource centers, developmentally disabled day programs and group homes, day and residential housing for autistic adults, community and county gardens and arboreta; and
WHEREAS, certified HTR professionals or interns can deliver effective HT programs, and these programs are customized for individuals and/or groups, providing meaningful activities to help in the healing and rehabilitation processes while celebrating the people-plant connection; and
WHEREAS, HT training and internships are linked with Rutgers, the State University, and local community colleges, and lead to gratifying jobs and career opportunities; and
WHEREAS, HT programs provide new growth opportunities for the agricultural and horticultural producers in New Jersey to bring their goods to market while exposing the benefits of agriculture and gardening to a community that is currently disconnected from the farm and nursery industries.
NOW, THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED, that we, the delegates to the 98th State Agricultural Convention, assembled in Atlantic City, N.J., on February 6-7, 2013, do hereby direct the New Jersey Department of Agriculture, through its various entities, to be responsive to our state’s growing and changing needs and promote HT to connect individuals with disabilities to plants, and build stronger community and purposeful inclusion for all residents of the Garden State, from children to adults.