Boise woman brings horticultural therapy to City Light Home For Women and Children

City Light Garden
Posted at 4:03 PM, Jun 27, 2021
and last updated 2021-06-28 18:44:13-04

BOISE, Idaho — For the last few months, a horticultural therapy intern has been working with women at City Light Home For Women and Children.

Katie Pukash is the first horticultural therapy intern in the state, and once she's certified, she'll be the only horticultural therapist in Idaho.

“A horticultural therapist is someone who knows human needs. Psychological, cognitive, physical and meets those needs through plant-based therapy," She said.

Pukash works with the women in the addiction recovery program at City Light, both individually and in group sessions.

“We either do like a meditation or we start by doing maintenance activities in the garden. Things like putting hay around the tomatoes and watering and things like that and we jump into a session," she said.

Each session looks different, but examples include making lavender wands, which is for anxiety, and terrariums. Pukash said a cool thing about the terrarium activity was that they used moss balls, which you can split into two, so when new women joined the program the women who took part in the activity split their moss ball in two so the new woman can have a terrarium too.

Individual sessions are tailored to each woman's goals, just like traditional therapy and at least in this program, horticultural therapy doesn't replace traditional therapy, it's in addition.

Pukash also said this can be a vocational program since they're learning new skills.

“They get to learn all about plants which can possibly lead to future employment," she said.

For Pukash, horticultural therapy brings together two things she's passionate about: helping people and gardening.

“We live in a society that’s more technological. We’re always on our phones or inside. It really drew me to helping people but also getting them outside, getting them connected with the Earth," she said.

Since she created this internship, Pukash said she's relying on donations for all supplies. She has a GoFundMe where she's taking donations for group session activities like the lavender wands. She also said people can make donations directly to City Light and things that are always helpful are starter seeds.

Pukash said she has about a year or so left of the internship which will be the last step to becoming a certified horticultural therapist.