Seed collage of a bird
Removing seeds from a sunflower
SarahCare of Riverdale: Bringing Nature Indoors

“Many of our clients never get the chance to wander outside and this brings the outdoors to each client – very refreshing and reminiscent for them.  I also love the process of engaging them in their own project, which brings out their creativity.”Sadie Reid, SarahCare Team Member

SarahCare serves older adults in a day program that provides engaging activities by caring staff members.  The SarahCare garden therapy program is one of Trellis’s more challenging ones because most clients have cognitive losses and physical impairments, such as poor vision, low verbal communication, and limited hand function requiring a high level of support during group sessions. Additionally, the facility does not have an outdoor garden area. Therefore, Trellis staff brings nature indoors with a focus on the sensory elements of plants and purposeful activities that promote mental stimulation through conversation and learning. Activities foster accomplishment and a sense of pride while considering the client’s abilities to ensure that they can and want to participate.

One successful and memorable program focused on sunflowers and seeds – growing, harvesting and using seeds in a fun and engaging art project, as well as making a tasty recipe for the participants to enjoy.  The heads of sunflowers were cut and the seeds harvested.  This task exercised fine motor skills to loosen the seeds, then pinching them to pick up and place in a bowl. The seeds were then added to a collection of different seed types to create seed art.  The art project allowed participants freedom to choose their favorite seeds and to create a unique piece of art.  Lastly, the participants learned how to make sunbutter from sunflower seeds that was made into a dipping sauce for fresh summer cucumbers. As gardeners it’s important to allow people to learn and experience the full cycle of planting, growing, harvesting and enjoying the benefits that plants have to offer us.