Our Approach


The goal of therapy sessions at Horti-Hope is to spread the joy of gardening to everyone. This will happen in many different ways. We can work in a raised bed garden, in a greenhouse, in your living room building a dish garden or terrarium or in a classroom learning fundamentals. There will always be some form of hands on activity every time we meet. Gardening isn't learned from a book.

I will spend time getting to know you and what you enjoy. Then I will tailor our sessions to your likes. One of my clients is crazy about succulents. I will purchase unique succulents and we will propagate those during his sessions. Another client prefers to do crafty things so we build and expand her fairy gardens. Another really enjoys the manual labor so I include carpentry and wood work repair in his sessions. I want my clients to look forward to their sessions.

My Story

I enjoyed gardening for many years and decided to apply for the Master Gardener Program in my county. After completing the class, I began volunteering with a newly formed team that was helping a class of students with disabilities grow and tend a vegetable garden. Very early in this experience, I was helping a young woman who was non-verbal to plant basil seedlings. Because this was the first time, she had planted a seedling the activity required hand over hand guidance. The first time I guided her to plant the basil seedling upright and at the correct depth and we pushed the soil back over the roots securing it in the hole. The next one I told her to dig the hole and she was able to place the seedling and cover it with minimal assistance from me. After a couple of plants, she was managing the task independently while I just watched to ensure she continued correctly cheering her on with an occasional “That’s a very good job!” As I sat back and watched her planting the seedlings, I realized she was humming with a smile on her face. At that moment I didn’t care if I ever got paid to do this, I just wanted to keep doing it for the rest of my life.

That was 2014. Since then I have been a part of that team every year since and Co-Leader since the second year. In that time we have had more than 20 students graduate the high school and our program and five students have gone on to careers in the green industry. Additionally I entered Rutgers University School of Environmental and Biological Sciences to get a Bachelor's degree in Horticultural Therapy. After graduating Summa cum laude I began my internship with the AHTA (American Horticultural Therapy Association) and expect to complete my Internship in the Spring of 2023.

I am currently a PhD student in Behavioral Systems Neuroscience at Rutgers University. The main focus of my research is to gather empirical evidence supporting the use of Horticultural Therapy to help people who have special needs with a special focus on Autistic People. The methods will include the use of measurements through non-invasive technology to measure stress biomarkers including cortisol levels, eye movements and galvanic skin response. My overall goal is to make Horticultural Therapy more accessible.