Community garden featured in new book


A new book about therapeutic garden design features the Inver Hills Community College–Metropolitan State University interdisciplinary community garden and orchard as an example of how gardens can benefit the community. Therapeutic Gardens: Design for Healing Spaces, by Daniel Winterbottom and Amy Wagenfeld, uses examples from around the world to demonstrate how gardens can support learning, movement, reconciliation and memorialization, as well as improve physical and psychological health.

61CSJHINsoL“We were looking for exemplars that demonstrate the key features that represent good therapeutic garden design,” says Wagenfeld. The participatory nature of the community garden—especially for those with special needs—made it a good choice for the book. The garden was founded in 2012 by August Hoffman, Metropolitan State psychology professor, and Barb Curchack, Inver Hills psychology professor. Since then, it has served as a place for students and other volunteers to connect with the community.

“Community gardening is rapidly becoming one of the most important resources within the Twin Cities to help provide low income families with access to healthier foods,”
says Hoffman. “Urban forestry projects, community gardens and green sustainable projects in general provide numerous psychological and social benefits and have been shown to provide important resources to community members.” According to Hoffman, the garden has produced several thousand pounds of fresh vegetables and apples to the Dayton’s Bluff and South Saint Paul community. It also has a positive impact on students who become involved.

Student Sai Thao plants a tree in Detroit
Student Sai Thao plants a tree in Detroit

“I think the Metro State-Inver Hills garden project is unique in that it is focused on connecting student across campuses,” says Shawn Veldey, a Metropolitan State graduate student who became involved with the garden when he took a class taught by Hoffman. “The garden is a way of bridging the higher ed experience and bringing a sense of connectedness to students.”

Hoffman and his fellow volunteer garden enthusiasts haven’t limited their growing skills to campus; the professor has organized trips to several gardens and orchards throughout the country, including Newtown, Conn. and Detroit, Mich. He is currently planning an apple orchard project for June at the Red Lake Nation reservation in Red Lake.

Therapeutic Gardens: Design for Healing Spaces, published by Timber Press, is available online and in bookstores on May 20. Students, staff and faculty interested in getting involved with the Inver Hills Community College–Metropolitan State University interdisciplinary community garden and orchard should contact August Hoffman at 651-999-5814 or