One of Trinity’s most innovative services is the Horticulture program. It teaches the care, cultivation and arrangement of plants and plant-related materials to adults with intellectual and developmental disabilities. The activities not only educate, but also provide stimulation, exercise and valuable skills.
The program operates a greenhouse, which is used year-round, and outdoor gardens. Program participants have indoor learning areas, project areas, and many plants and horticulture-related materials to work with. This welcoming, comfortable setting is open to the public during special events and sales.
Developing better social skills, improving motor coordination, enhancing self-esteem, and acquiring job skills are just a few of the benefits of horticulture activities. To do their work, participants use everything from Braille labeling if they are blind, to adaptive gardening tools if they have physical disabilities. These supports open up a new world to a person who had been unable to take part in gardening.
The textures, movements, colors and sounds of these activities appeal to the senses. And, even in a northern climate, horticulture offers purposeful activity throughout the year. Participants start herbs and vegetables from seed or plugs. During the growing season, they pick the ripe food daily. The produce is either sold or stored for later use. In late winter, flowers are seeded indoors so they are ready by springtime for planting indoors and outdoors.
Trinity calls this a universal garden, which is adapted from The Horticultural Therapy Association's term enabling gardens. Every part of it can be accessed and used by a person with or without a disability. Paved walkways allow a person in a wheelchair to easily access the picnic and garden features. And, And, garden plots are built on a revolving stand or a planting wall to reduce the "chore" aspect of plant care. For visitors and workers alike, the organic vegetable garden has viewing windows that provide a look at what is happening in the soil underground.
Participants use the plants in many ways, such as drying herbs in dehydrators and adding fresh herbs to their meals. And, plant health care is a vital aspect of the curriculum. Participants use environmentally responsible methods, such as composting, to nurture plants without the use of pesticides and insecticides.
A tortoise, birds and fish in residence add wonder and joy as participants focus on caring for and respecting animals.
Plant sales are held in spring and autumn. The Spring Flower & Garden Sale starts with pre-orders in late winter. On-site shopping starts on the Sunday before Mother’s Day, continues the following Saturday, and the greenhouse is then open on weekdays through the end of May. Bedding plants, herbs, vegetables, hanging baskets, exotic annuals, container gardens, and special orders are available at reasonable prices.
Other seasonal sales include the holiday season sales of live wreaths and poinsettias, and the October sales of cornstalks, hay and pumpkins. You can find announcements about the sales on the Trinity marquee near the greenhouse, at 100 N. Gougar Road in Joliet, and in newsletters, flyers, postcard mailings, local news media and church bulletins.
Volunteer opportunities are available at the Horticulture program, as well as other areas of Trinity. Contact Sherry Ladislas at 815-717-3750 or e-mail her. Donations are accepted at any time. If you wish to donate online, click here.
For more information about the program, call Diana Masny at 815-485-8146.