Special Needs Audiences Awards

1st Place Winner

Resiliency Gardening Program: The USO and Green Spring EMG Program

Green Spring Gardens Extension Master Gardener Program


Green Spring Master Gardener (GSMG) Program in Fairfax ,Virginia has developed and facilitated a yearlong gardening program since 2016 for Ft Belvoir Active-Duty individuals in addiction treatment. The program features both technical gardening education and the wellness benefits of gardening. The individuals participate in this project  as part of their addiction treatment. We serve about 300 service members and 100 staff annually. Each week a group of up to 16 patients and 4 staff join us at the USO garden, which consists of 11 raised beds in three locations on a 4-acre parcel.  The individuals participate in-hands on gardening that yields a bounty of vegetables and herbs that the group enjoys in the USO kitchen.
To augment this program, the GSMGs have prepared an herb gardening booklet presenting comprehensive and easy to understand information on how to grow and use each herb along with its wellness benefits. We found that presenting information in the context of the client’s life better engages them in the gardening educational component.  
Local Chapters of the Daughters of the American Revolution have supported us and recognized our program with a Community Service Award. 
This project’s critical success factors which make for a fulfilling EMG effort are:  1) education of a discrete population 2) coupling education with contextual information, increasing its relevance. 3) partnership with a great organization – the USO, and 4) recognition and support by community organizations and local businesses. We have found that these are the elements that make a program sustainable.

2nd Place Winner

Evergreen Horticulture Therapy Project

Johnson County Kansas State Extension Master Gardeners


Our mission is to provide Horticultural therapy for the residents of Evergreen Community of Johnson County, Kansas using their garden. This is an award-winning nursing center where they manage four individual communities. Residents have a lot of flexibility about activities and what and when they do things each day. As Extension Master Gardeners, we help them to participate and recapture memories of their own gardens, times, and happy places in their lives. We bring them joy from the garden. We nurture this garden which is a little bit of paradise right in the center of their facility growing flowers and food. There is also a koi pond and a gazebo which is a place of refuge on a hot day. Chairs and tables are randomly placed around the edges of the smooth level sidewalk. We may communicate verbally or by our actions as we work in the garden together for those able.
We use enabling tools and individual attention to help residents participate. A resident with an extreme level of disability can participate in the smallest way, even if it is to sit and enjoy both the edible and visual beauties. We create with them and for them, hoping to provide a place of peace at this moment in their lives. It is an opportunity to grow and learn ourselves. Together we help Evergreen residents, their families, the staff, and ourselves have a better quality of life. This is what Horticultural Therapy is and should do for all involved.