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Garden Therapy Committee Reports

2022-2023 — Sarah Olson, Chair; Susan Dumont, Vice Chair

This season Garden Therapy continued to build relationships with organizations we worked with in the past and added outreach to several new facilities.

We reinstated monthly deliveries of flower arrangements designed by our members for the nurses at Mountainside Hospital, to recognize their commitment to healthcare.

Our very popular flower arranging workshops were held at The Cliffs at Eagle Rock and Freedom Village, both senior living facilities, as well as at Oasis - A Haven for Women and Children.

We created almost 300 seasonal floral arrangements for our Sharon's Harvest Thanksgiving event for Toni's Kitchen patrons, and seasonal winter arrangements for Park Methodist food pantry patrons, and Human Needs Food Pantry shut-ins.

And we got back in the dirt for our workshops with a visit to Freedom Village where we guided clients in creating windowsill herb gardens, and a repeat visit to Oasis to assist in planting their rooftop containers.


2021-2022 — Sarah Olson, Chair; Floss O'Sullivan, Vice Chair

This season, Garden Therapy expanded outreach to serve additional populations. Our work included projects creating content to be used virtually, cheerful floral gifts for those high-risk groups that couldn't risk in-person contact, and, when appropriate, spreading cheer through active project engagement.


September 2021 saw us working outdoors with a small group of clients at the Canterbury Village Senior Center, planting succulent cactus container gardens.

In October, we began a new monthly program for the nurses at Mountainside Hospital to recognize their commitment to healthcare. GCM Members worked alone or in small groups to design a floral arrangement that was delivered to nursing stations at the hospital. Our outreach in October was leading a flower arranging workshop at Oasis; again, a huge success as we worked with 19 clients.


We repeated our Thanksgiving event for Toni's Kitchen, with a new twist to honor GCM member Sharon Karlson. Renamed "Sharon's Harvest," we teamed up with Van Vleck House & Gardens "Good Grows Here" event. GCM Members sourced and prepped materials and then assisted families on the day of the event in the design of their flower arrangement. Over 180 arrangements were delivered to Toni's Kitchen.


February saw the launch of our YouTube video, "Botanical Journeys." Beautiful botanical images were set to music for the enjoyment of seniors. GCM Members supplied and curated the photos and then created the video. Connections at Home, an organization that caters to "shut-ins," was one of the recipients.


March and April were active with additional flower arranging workshops for two organizations: Nassan's Place, an autistic youth program, and Oasis. In addition, GCM Members made 100 May Day baskets for Canterbury Rehab Center in Cedar Grove.


We got our hands dirty with our season wrap up on June 1st by planning and planting six raised rooftop containers at Oasis. Clients and GCM Members enjoyed planting annuals and herbs. 


Thank you to the Garden Therapy committee for all of your support this year. And a huge thank you to the Club membership for their enthusiastic support and participation in all of our events!


2020-2021 — Sarah Olson, Chair; Floss O'Sullivan, Vice Chair

Like so many other aspects of our lives, the COVID-19 pandemic affected how Garden Therapy was able to operate and achieve its mission. Our face-to-face interactions with clients had to be curtailed but we were able to spread floral good cheer due to the terrific participation of our Club members.


In September 2020, Club members prepared 60 bundles of flowers for Toni’s Kitchen which had become a food bank site for the community due to COVID-19. Much of the plant material was cut from the Club’s Avis Campbell Gardens. In November, the Club delivered a windowsill hydroponic edibles project to the seniors at Canterbury Village in West Orange so those who had been confined indoors for months could enjoy a garden brought to them.


Our 2020 Thanksgiving project offered an abundance of beauty to the clients of Toni's Kitchen. Club members, with foliage from Avis Campbell Gardens, designed 150 Thanksgiving floral arrangements that were given to the clients.


Our Club delivered 140 May Day flower baskets to the seniors at Job Haines in Bloomfield and Canterbury Rehab in Cedar Grove. After a winter of minimal in-person interaction, our members enjoyed the social, therapeutic affects of this outdoor work session, and the seniors were thrilled to receive the cheerful arrangements.


Also in May, a small group of members assisted residents of First Montclair House in planting windowsill herb gardens. The residents enjoyed talking to fellow plant lovers and showing us their raised beds planted with vegetables.


Thank you to the Garden Therapy committee members for all of your support this year: Betsy Burgess, Ellen Colton, Susan Dumont, Donna Karanja, Vicky Kearns, Maria Matesanz, Maureen Michaud, Helene Peck, Peg Scott-Fleming, Wendy Stahl, Patt Sullivan-Perry, and Sue Young. And a huge Thank You to the Club Membership for your enthusiastic support and participation in all of our events.


2019-2020 — Sarah Olson, Chair; Floss O'Sullivan, Vice Chair

Garden Therapy reviewed its mission and established the goal of expanding its outreach to include not only nursing homes and assisted living facilities but other groups facing personal challenges or where garden therapy would make a positive impact. To that end we created new activities and reached out to more groups in a wider geographic network.


In August, four GCM members played flower Bingo with eight residents at First Montclair House in Montclair. Amy South's Moss & More supplied the succulent plants that were awarded as prizes.


Canterbury Village in West Orange was our destination in September. Eight GCM members assisted thirteen senior residents in crafting artificial floral arrangements in raffia pouches that would hang on their apartment doors. Residents made their own choices from our offering of artificial and dried flowers and live greens.


Our group visited Job Haines in October. Seven members assisted nineteen senior residents in creating floral arrangements for their rooms.We worked with a combination of artificial and dried flower material as well as live greens. Residents were encouraged to select their own materials from the assortment brought by the Club.


In November, we shifted gears and visited Oasis in Paterson, a domestic violence support center. Our mission was to teach and create live floral arrangements with their clients. Fran Ackerly led the demonstration and six additional GCM members assisted 14 clients with their creations. Everyone was able to take home their beautiful designs. Vases and flowers were generously donated by Bartlett's Florists


Eight GCM members visited SOFIA in Montclair in February and celebrated "Gal-entine's" Day with 11 clients at this domestic violence support facility by creating live floral arrangements that the ladies could take home with them. Susan Benner led the demonstration and taught the basics of floral design. Vases were donated by Bartlett's Florists.


Our March event at The Safe House was canceled due to Covid-19. We want to thank all of the GCM members who participated in our events and are counting on your support as we accept the challenge of continuing our mission of outreach during the Covid-19 era. We are grateful for the Garden Club's warm support to expand our program this upcoming year.

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