BOARD OF DIRECTORS
Abby Jaroslow, HTR
NY - Anne Meore, LMSW, HTR
PA: Patti Loughridge, HTA
NJ - OPEN
Elections and Awards
Mandy Swope-Joos, HTR
Members at Large
Pam Young, HTR;
Greetings to all our MAHTN members!
It was lovely to see some of you at the 2016 Annual Conference at Medford Leas Retirement Community in October. I want to thank Peg Schofield for taking on the position of Interim President for the last several years. She has done much to keep MAHTN professional, thriving, growing and serving Horticultural Therapy students and practitioners in our region.
I also want to thank membership for trusting me with the task of filling Peg’s shoes as MAHTN President. I hope I will do the job justice and carry on Peg’s legacy with even a small amount of her grace and wit.
MAHTN has had a successful 2016, which included the Annual Conference in NJ. A big thanks to the conference committee for putting on a terrific event complete with great speakers, stimulating discussions, good food, beautiful landscapes and the warmth and camaraderie of friends and colleagues.
In addition to the conference, MAHTN organized two interesting site visits. In March we visited Green Works Farm in North Wales, PA. Thanks to Bette Walter for hosting us and highlighting the hydroponic growing system and vocational training program at Green Works. In June, Anne Meore hosted MAHTN at the Garden of Hope/Good Samaritan Regional Medical Center, in Suffern, NY. Anne showed us many innovative growing options for vegetables and herbs and explained how hundreds of pounds of food are distributed to soup kitchens in the region.
Looking ahead to 2017, we are excited to announce our spring members meeting will be held at NYBG in the Bronx on March 25th. Anne Meore, Phyllis D’Amico and NYBG’s special events department are working on a program that promises to be quite inspiring. Additionally, plans are in the works for a meeting and site visit in PA (date TBD) and a meeting and site visit in New Jersey in June. John Kennedy will be hosting The 2017 Annual Conference in October at Foulkeways Retirement Community in Gwynedd, PA. Look for more information on all of these events in your next email correspondence from MAHTN.
A big thank you to Gerrie Schmidt for redesigning and launching the new MAHTN website and adding online registration options for both membership and conference. Gerrie has brought MAHTN into the technology age and I encourage members to take a look at the new website which is chock-full of current and useful information for students and practitioners.
I’m proud to announce that, with the streamlined online registration process, over half our membership has already renewed for 2017 and 90% of that was accomplished online. I’d like to encourage those of you who have not yet renewed, to do so. It takes less than 5 minutes to do online and you’ll get a great bang for your buck at $15 for students and $25 for the rest of us for a year of access to the website, the MAHTNMatters newsletter, reduced conference fee and other events through out the year.
Finally, I want to recognize the entire Board of Directors for the commitment they’ve made to MAHTN and to working to raise the professional bar for Horticultural Therapy. Welcome to our new board members: Megan Fainsinger (Membership), Amanda Joos (Scholarships and Awards), Patti Loughridge (VP, PA), Jeannette Glennon-Morrisey (VP,NJ), Faith Kuehn and John Kennedy (Members-at-Large).
Here’s wishing a happy and productive new year to all of you. I’m looking forward to serving the HT community and to promoting MAHTN’s mission. Thanks for the challenge.
Abby Jaroslow, HTR
Letter from the Editor:
Happy 2017! As we kick off a New Year please consider the ways you might help MAHTN grow this year. There are many opportunities for you to have an active role; hosting a meeting, writing an article for the newsletter, joining a committee, helping or presenting at our annual MAHTN Conference. Whether the role is big or small please consider contributing some time and energy to invest, explore and engage with the MAHTN this year! If you haven’t renewed your MAHTN membership for 2017 please take a moment and do so.
Winter and the start of a New Year always bring about some time for reflection, resolutions and I slow my pace a bit just like plants do this time of the year. The article Keep your Hope Machine Running in the New Year gives us a glimpse at some historical resolutions, a peek at how to keep life simple and uncomplicated and suggestions on how to keep a resolution if you make one.
Thanks to Lesley Fleming, HTR our contributor for the Practitioner’s Forum. This edition kicks off the first of a four part series on the ‘Treatment Process’ and this article focuses on the ‘Assessment’ phase, which is an integral part of an effective HT treatment plan.
Get Creative in the New Year is your charge as a horticultural therapist to keep those juices flowing and to encourage your client’s to be creative! New research proves that doing creative work makes you feel good and is accompanied by feelings of meaning, engagement and purpose in life.
The article Gardening for the People, The Gardener is Sick: A Year Later is a poignant and moving article about illness, recovery and the lessons learned from a garden. It mirrors many of the same emotions and steps necessary for recovery that many of our clients may experience and provides an interesting, reflective perspective of what a garden can teach us.
Comfort Herbs for Winter provides a recipe for HT programming that encourages us to use the garden as a remedy and source of health and wellness. The article also highlights a few great books for some interesting, healing winter reading.
As the world looks ahead to 2017, many astronomers and sky gazers are looking up, with a litany of space-related events and missions peppering the months ahead. We've chronicled a handful of the most exciting to circle on your calendar in the article What to See in the Sky in 2017. Let's all hope for clear skies.
If you have any suggestions for articles, would like to provide some feedback regarding MAHTNMatters or would like to contribute to a future edition please reach out to me.
All the best to you and your HT endeavors in the New Year!
Pam Young, HTR
Come Grow with MAHTN in 2017
This New Year, take time to invest in your professional development, explore innovative local HT programs, and engage in networking opportunities with a supportive community of colleagues. MAHTN provides members access and information to conferences, research updates, quarterly newsletters, job/internship postings, mentoring opportunities, and so much more.
If you haven't already renewed your MAHTN membership, NOW is the time. Membership to MAHTN provides member benefits for a full calendar year, from January through December. Membership for 2016 expired on December 31st. We are currently accepting renewals and new members. Your dues enable us to support MAHTN's mission of promoting the practice of horticultural therapy across the Mid-Atlantic region. Whether you are renewing your MAHTN membership, joining for the first time, or re-joining after a break, there are two ways to apply:
Click here to fill out an application form and submit your payment online
PAY BY CHECK:
Click here to save a downloadable application form. Print it out, complete and mail to MAHTN at PO BOX 704, Morristown, NJ 07963
Thank you! to those who've already renewed! We welcome and look forward to your continued participation in 2017!
MAHTN would like to extend a heartfelt welcome the following new members to our organization. We look forward to meeting you at the next MAHTN event.
Consider ordering from Renee's Seeds to create and grow your own Pollinator Garden.
2017 AHTA Annual Conference
Join AHTA in Burlington, Vermont, September 8-9 (Pretours on September 7) for the 2017 AHTA Annual Conference. Hosted by the Northeast Regional Networking Group, the Conference will bring together horticultural professionals from around the world. Pretours will feature local gardens and programs. Add in the bonus of the Fall "Leaf Peeper" season and you have the perfect combination of networking, education and fun. The conference will be held at the Burlington Hilton Hotel in the heart of the city.
By Gayla Trail
A year ago, almost to the day, I wrote about my experiences as a gardener who couldn’t garden due to illness and what that taught me about myself and gardening. I ended the piece by musing on a reassurance from my partner Davin that come spring both the garden and I would be here.
Eventually, spring did come and I was still here. And so was the garden. Better still, I WAS able to garden. And while some things had changed (including me), looking at the garden, it was as if nothing bad had happened. Self-seeding annuals came back. Most perennials survived. There was an abundance of food to eat, especially in terms of self-seeding crops and wild things. There were more pollinators and interesting critters than ever before. Life went on.
That said, it was not as it had been in past spring seasons. While I was buoyed up by the excitement and promise of the season, I had to pull back and be very careful not to push my body too hard or create work that I might not be able to keep up with in the future. Recovery from an illness like this is not a straightforward or easy path. Healing takes time. It is often unpredictable. It isn’t always a linear process wherein you get better and better until finally everything is exactly as it had been before. Too often this is a false expectation that we have and since it is an “easy” narrative, it is one I see most commonly perpetuated in film, television and books. The person is gravely ill and then magically there is progress and we are shown a montage of doctors’ visits and days in the sun and then, poof, everything is better. What we are never shown is the in-between or the stories in which things don’t improve at all. I am still engaged in the process of healing, so I will say a few words here about the journey through the in-between. The in-between is small (sometimes painfully so) leaps of progress accompanied by days and sometimes weeks of inexplicable new challenges. It is questioning your future. It is stumbling around in the dark feeling terrified and uncertain and off balance. It is often having few answers and an endless seeking through books as well as uncomfortable and sometimes traumatic appointments with new health care practitioners for specks of knowledge that apply to your individual body. It is repeatedly running through a checklist of every symptom you have ever had and reminding yourself that things have improved because that symptom has gone, only to have it come back. The in-between is learning to accept your limitations and frailties while also acknowledging and even celebrating your strengths. It is redefining who you are, what you want from life, and finding joy and happiness exactly where you are, even if where you are is exactly the opposite of where you would prefer to be.
A year ago I wrote that by the following fall it would be as if this had never happened. That’s such a laugh to me now that I can’t imagine ever uttering those words.
Despite all I have said above, there are ways in which I am grateful that this happened. Those are difficult words to write, because they suggest, at least superficially, that I have enjoyed this experience. I can’t mince words here: I hate this. There are times when it has been brutally abysmal. And at times it still is. But where there is dark there is also light. The illness has taught me things. In many ways the lessons have not been new, but are more or less a clarification and a refocus on things I already knew or had been working toward.
For example, I have never been very good about asking for help. I have always been caught up in demonstrating my independence and strength. I can do it all myself! But I got sick in such a way that there was no choice. I had to ask for help. I had to learn to humbly receive help when it was offered. In this way I have become so much more aware of the lies that we tell ourselves about being able to do it all alone. We are by nature communal animals. We belong to each other. We need each other. This is not a weakness of the individual; just a fact of our nature. Now I find myself feeling much more gratitude for the community that I have and am figuring out how to go forward in the world in a way that puts what I have learned into action. My new book will hopefully be available to you in the spring is called "Grow Curious." The goal of the book is about finding connection through the garden and I have been surprised to find the depth of connection that has come through the process of trying to fund it.
Being sick in this way has made me a more empathetic and compassionate person. And not just to people who are suffering chronic illness. Being that frail and vulnerable made me see that I had always been deep feeling and how much effort I had been making to resist the depth of those feelings. How much I had felt ashamed of them. What we resist in ourselves can become something that we find intolerable in other people. There were times when being that sick made me as helpless as a baby.
There was nothing to do but let go and accept my predicament, and that in turn meant that I dropped many of the coping mechanisms that had been constructed to protect myself from ever feeling the full depth of that. Intellectually, I have known for some time that vulnerability is not weakness, but there were parts of me that just could not let the protective wall drop. It’s still difficult, but I can be vulnerable now in ways that I could not before. I feel more joy and more sadness. I also feel more anger. All of those hard feelings that I resisted are more up here on the surface now and my relationship to them has changed. They’re a guide. I’m still a work in progress, but I am grateful for the strides that were made. In many ways being ill has been a giant lesson in letting go. The garden has always been a great teacher. My gardens have been life learning companions in ways I never could have anticipated. One of the main lessons that I have been working on with my current garden has been in allowing the garden, and in turn, myself, to be messy. It’s not about allowing everything to fall apart, but to find balance and relinquishing tight-fisted control. Three years ago to the month, I wrote here about this process of letting go through my relationship with the garden. At the time, I included something I had read in an Alice Walker book, “…”You(‘re) a little mess, ain’t you.” Meaning someone selfish enough to fully express her being.” I wrote about this way of conceptualizing messiness as a positive, as a way of exposing our vulnerability and fallibility and being whole people rather than overindulging in the dangerous and often limiting myth of perfection.
This unattainable perfectionism is something that I see perpetuated in the world of gardening. Perfect gardens where there are no flaws, disease, pests, or misplaced plants. Perfect gardens, perfect gardeners, and Pinterest lives. This way of being doesn’t exist naturally so the only way to attain it is through chemical means, help in the form of labor, or by putting ourselves through a certain kind of hell. It props up the idea of the garden as something to be owned and robs us of a relationship we can have in partnership with nature. It perpetuates the notion that the garden is a war zone and that we are soldiers fighting in a battle against bad insects and bad plants (weeds). It purports to keep us safe from the scrutiny of others, but there are terrible consequences, the most important being a separation from ourselves. Well before the sickness, I knew this perfectionism is not real life and I wanted very much to let go of the anxieties connected with it. It is not how nature works and it is not human nature either.
A healthy, holistic garden is a balanced one where so-called good and so-called bad coexist. There is loss, and death, and grubbiness, and all manner of grotesque things in the garden beside unimaginable beauty and wonder to be found. Where I had difficulty putting this knowledge into practice was in the fact that my flaws and imperfections were exposed in the public eye. There was a connection to ego that I couldn’t shake even as I pushed myself to show things honestly and without editing or cleaning beforehand. Being too ill to act on my lingering anxieties made it so that there was nothing to do but let go and accept the mess as it was. And in the process I saw a garden that demonstrated resilience as well as a burst of interesting change, new visitors, and new life.
Life is always in transition. Try as we might, things do not stay the same. From the beginning, gardening put me more in touch with the changing seasons and the ever-evolving patterns of life. In some ways, this prepared me for the unpredictable journey of healing, with its own ever-evolving cycles. Plant life ebbs and flows with the turmoil that can come from extreme, unpredictable weather and so I have tried to take my cues from them. Sometimes shit gets rough. It won’t last forever. I can’t predict what the garden will teach me next, but I anticipate its lesson.
Reprinted from http://yougrowgirl.com/tag/grow-curious/
About the author
Gayla Trail is an author, gardener, designer, and photographer. She is the founder of the website You Grow Girl.