Zen in the Garden: College of Pharmacy, Counseling Center host horticulture therapy

Students invited to apply for Thursday afternoon sessions that offer stress relief, education, service to community

University of Rhode Island students have the opportunity to join a healing, safe space on campus while experiencing the therapeutic benefits of growing ornamental plants, flowers and herbs, thanks to a collaboration between the College of Pharmacy and the URI Counseling center.

Hosted by psychologist and URI Master Gardener Warren Schwartz, and Pharmacy Adjunct Professor Elizabeth Leibovitz, who is the coordinator of the Heber W. Youngken Jr. Medicinal Garden and greenhouse outside Avedisian Hall, the URI Therapeutic Horticulture Group invites participants to explore the healing power of nature through mindfulness activities, gardening and the design of a therapeutic garden over five weeks during the spring semester.

“This will give students the chance to reduce stress through a hands-on activity and meet other students with similar interests, while performing a service to the URI community,” Leibovitz said. “There’s nothing quite like getting your hands dirty in the garden. It’s not therapy, exactly, but it is therapeutic.”

In addition to learning about various plants and herbs in the garden and engaging in stress-relieving exercises, the group will give back by refurbishing a space on campus to create a healing garden for the community. Participants will do the collaborative work of creating a vision for the space and bringing it to completion.

The Therapeutic Horticulture Group is limited in numbers, and prospective members are asked to commit to five 90-minute sessions throughout the semester, beginning in early March. Anyone interested in joining is asked to fill out a short application survey, which can be found at https://cutt.ly/fwzeNrLW.