Introduction to Therapeutic Horticulture

Learn to design garden-based activities that support the physical, mental and social health of individuals.

Woman gardener smiling in a field of vegetables.

This course is designed to introduce participants to the growing field of Horticultural Therapy in which gardens and garden-based activities are designed to support the physical, mental and social health of individuals. Studies show that gardening is a valuable way to improve and maintain physical and mental health, bring communities together and aid rehabilitation. Gardens and garden-based activities are increasingly being used in settings and services such as hospitals, schools, Aged Care, Disability, Migrant settlement, Youth and Justice, and Mental Health.

The course will explore a range of aspects of both garden and activity design such as understanding client needs, rehabilitation, community gardens, working with all senses, catering for mobility issues and includes a visit to SEEDS Communal Garden which is located within Milparinka Disability Services.

The course will also provide an opportunity for participants to explore training, volunteering and employment pathways in allied fields such as Horticulture, Permaculture, Leisure and Health, Community Services.

Logo: Learn Local – Skills for study work and life

Course details

This eight-session (eight-week) course will run on the following dates in 2023:

Fri 3 Mar – 28 Apr or
Mon 1 May – 26 Jun or
Thur 11 May – 29 Jun or
Tues 25 Jul – 12 Sep or
Mon 16 Oct – 11 Dec

CERES CERES Community Environment Park, corner of Roberts & Stewart Streets, Brunswick East, Victoria

– Concession available
– ACFE subsidised course placements are available. The cost for ACFE Eligible participants is $63.

Course length

Eight sessions: 10am – 3pm


Introduction to Therapeutic Horticulture

  • What is Therapeutic Horticulture and the differences to Horticultural Therapy.
  • Applications and benefits of Therapeutic Horticulture & nature-based activities.
  • Connecting with nature through sensory processes & mindfulness.

Understanding Client Needs & Supporting Diversity

  • Understanding Client’s needs & abilities.
  • What diversity means and how to support it in this context.
  • Potential challenging behaviours & engagement opportunities in the garden.

Community Gardens

  • Different Community Garden models.
  • Establishing and identifying key elements in Community Gardens.
  • Site visit to SEEDS Communal Garden.

Writing and Facilitating Therapeutic Horticulture Programs

  • The planning process; values, key objectives and elements of a program.
  • Planning activities; practicalities, preparation, adjustments, feedback & evaluation.
  • Facilitator framework and qualities.

Sessions involve class discussion and group work activities

Design Fundamentals

  • Creating a client brief
  • Site analysis
  • Design features for consideration

At the end of the session, we do a mud map specific to varying client needs using all the theory covered earlier in the day

Sensory Gardens

  • Exploring senses
  • Sensory walk
  • Understanding each of our senses and how they can affect mood

We re-address our mud maps and focus on appropriate alterations to highlight the gardens sensory experiences.

Kitchen Gardens

  • Benefits of growing food
  • How and where to grow edible plants
  • Practical applications for varied client groups

The bulk of the day conducting practical exercises of building and planting gardens as well as plant propagation.


  • Industry Guest speaker
  • Exploring industry entry pathways including further learning and volunteering
  • Group discussion of where to from here and map individuals possible pathways.

** A certificate will be issued upon completion of at least 75% of the course

* This is an ACFE Approved Pre-accredited Course where the cost is subsidised for eligible participants.

ACFE Eligible participants are deemed eligible through an interview process with our career pathways officer. To learn more check out our Learning Pathways. The costs for these participants are $63.

Contact Karen Mengell on 9389 0127 or for more information and to book an interview.

Justin Calverley has been teaching our Complete Urban Farmer course for 10 years. When he is not taking groups of budding green thumbs through all manner of garden know-how, he runs his own Horticultural Consultation Design and Education business, Sensory Gardens. Justin‘s approach is to encourage interaction and understanding of the natural world’s systems via a mix of theory and practical sessions which see his students gain hands-on skills and knowledge. The Complete Urban Farmer course also explores industry skills which has seen some students be inspired to make Horticulture their life-long career. Justin is a regular broadcaster on 3RRR’s “Breakfasters” and ABC “Evenings”. He is also the author of “The Urban Farmer”, available at CERES Nursery.

Anne Galbraith has a social sciences background and has studied conservation and land management and visual arts. Anne is currently completing a Master of Social Work. Anne’s experience includes work with the elderly and people with dementia, children and teens in out of home care and people living with disability. Anne is currently working with women and children who have experienced family violence and or homelessness. Anne has recently had the opportunity to design and create a Sensory Garden in a crisis accommodation service where she runs a sensory garden program.

What should I bring?

  • Comfortable enclosed shoes/boots
  • Gardening gloves
  • Appropriate weather gear eg sunhat
  • Pen and paper
  • Lunch
  • Enthusiasm to learn and get your hands dirty

What should I wear?

  • Casual clothing (Warning: This might get messy)

CERES reserves the right to cancel workshops due to insufficient numbers.

If we cancel the workshop you will be entitled to a 100% refund, or you may choose to transfer to another date, subject to availability.

If you decide to withdraw 7 or more days prior to the workshop date CERES will retain a 10% administration fee.

If you decide to withdraw less than 7 days prior to the workshop date CERES will retain 100% of your workshop fee.

Should CERES have to cancel the course due to Government changes relating to the COVD-19 response, we will let you know as soon as possible. Affected participants will be sent a notification that includes details on how to re-book another date or workshop. While cancellations on our part remain refundable within the specified time period, we do hope you will consider bearing with us in these precarious and trying times, and consider the rescheduled date where possible.

I loved all the hands-on parts of the course, building the no-dig garden, garden design, propagating and the visit to Joe’s market. I also loved learning about all the possible client groups who would benefit from this type of program.

Kate, April 2021

Our presenters stressed the importance of building community coupled with horticulture and encouraged us to embrace this concept each week during class. Theory and practice connected meaningfully.

Participant, April 2021
I loved the balance of practical and theory. It was great to learn from a mix of teachers with a diversity of knowledge. I also appreciated that there was enough time in the lessons for discussion, so we could also learn from each other.
It has made me think more intentionally about the design and use of space.
Participant, April 2021

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