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Improving wellbeing through gardening in public spaces


Tamani Nair
17 October 2018

Heavyweights in the field of therapeutic horticulture will gather on the Gold Coast next week to discuss and present their findings on the benefits of horticulture in public spaces.

Southern Cross University, along with industry partner Vegepod Australia will co-host the 2018 Australian Therapeutic Landscapes Conference at its Gold Coast Campus, Friday 26 October, the first time the conference is being held in Queensland.

With the theme, “Going Public”: encouraging therapeutic horticulture in public spaces, the conference presentations will aim to lead and inform delegates on how therapeutic garden design and programs address public health issues.

Attracting more than 100 delegates from a variety of professional backgrounds within a number of contexts including schools, aged care, disability, rehabilitation, social housing, allied health and community gardens, the conference takes a truly interdisciplinary perspective on understanding the therapeutic benefits of gardening.

Instrumental in bringing the conference to the Gold Coast, University’s Research Fellow, Dr Kate Neale said the calibre of speakers at the conference is a list of who’s who in the field of horticulture nationally and internationally.

“This year we are very fortunate to have Deputy Director for Horticulture Outreach and Heritage Trees at the National Parks Singapore, Weijing Soh sharing lessons from her country’s therapeutic garden movement,” Dr Neale said.

“What struck me most last year when I attended the conference in Adelaide was the generosity with which people shared their programs, ideas and experiences.

“Everyone was so passionate about sharing knowledge with the genuine intent of deepening and extending our understanding of how therapeutic horticulture helps and how to leverage that so more people can benefit.

Co-host of the conference, Vegepod Australia Director Simon Holloway believes delegates should come away with a much more participant-centric approach to community gardens.

“Changing the focus more towards the ‘gardeners in need’ themselves and ensuring the garden is not just about the obvious joy of harvesting in the end, but rather the whole process from start to finish,” Mr Holloway said.

“Therapeutic Horticulture and the accessible gardening programs we have devised with Southern Cross University’s Dr Neale like KindyGarden, SeniorGrow, GrowAbility, Sprouters and HomeGrown have become an integral part of Vegepod’s business and indeed encompasses our whole approach to our community.”

President of Therapeutic Horticulture Australia, Mr Steven Wells said they were looking forward to the conference and its outcomes.

“This opportunity provides a valuable chance to connect and network with other horticulturists to further strengthen the field of horticulture and its many ways of benefiting individuals and communities,” Mr Wells said.

What:                   Australian Therapeutic Landscapes Conference 2018

When:                  October 26 - 8:30 am - 6:00 pm

Where:                 Southern Cross University, Terminal Dr
                             Bilinga, Queensland 4225 Australia