POP Comes to a Successful End!

The LGP Fellows have at last completed their 2011 POP project!  After collective research, they broke into two teams: programming and membership.  The Fellows used their extensive research to identify new programmatic activities that will serve to connect the Scott Arboretum with the Swarthmore College community.  They also used their research to create new strategies for membership growth.

The programming team was divided into three groups: student life, academics, and community outreach.  In the student life group, the Fellows outlined educational and recreational activities that would raise awareness of the Arboretum on campus.   The academics group examined how to best get the faculty involved through potential connections between the Arboretum collections and the academic curriculum.  They used information from benchmarking research to determine how the Arboretum could formalize this curricular collaboration.  The community outreach group identified areas for growth, such as family programming, and highlighted the potential for the Arboretum to join regional events like the Subaru Cherry Blossom Festival of Greater Philadelphia.

The membership team interviewed expert professionals to identify opportunities to increase membership and improve the membership program at the Scott Arboretum.  Strategies for success included restructuring their membership program staff, reframing membership levels and benefits, and proposing new approaches to membership growth and retention through marketing and surveys.

The Fellows have produced a thorough and informative document from which the Scott Arboretum can build its programming and membership.  Congratulations to Raakel Toppila for her excellent work as team leader for POP 2011 and a big thanks to the POP Advisory Committee for their advice and guidance.

POP So Far

photographs by James Hearsum

This summer the Fellows busily worked on POP with two overarching goals in sight. The first was to develop programming that speaks to the mission of the Scott Arboretum while increasing involvement of the Swarthmore community and students and faculty of Swarthmore College.  The second goal was to grow membership at the Scott Arboretum.

Three research teams were established. One team investigated Swarthmore College. The curriculum was examined for opportunities for collaboration. Student interest groups were considered for partnerships. Surveys were sent to faculty, students and staff. We were pleasantly surprised to have 228 student survey respondents. From it, we learned about where students like to spend time on campus, their interest in horticulture-related topics and overall involvement in the Arboretum.

The second research team investigated the Scott Arboretum. Staff interviews provided invaluable insight into organizational capacity. The current arboretum membership program was explored and current collaborations were considered.

The third research team reached out to other campus gardens and arboreta with the goal of benchmarking best practices. The Botanic Garden at Smith College in Massachusetts was found to have many similarities with the Scott Arboretum. Both campus gardens are free and open to the public, cater to a curriculum that does not have a horticulture major and struggle to engage students in the arboretum’s activities. Madeline Zadik (LGP Class of ’85) provided valuable insight into their Curriculum Enhancement Program and other ways the Botanic Garden has dealt with such challenges.

Now it is time to shift focus. How will we apply the knowledge gained to produce recommendations for the Scott Arboretum?  Stay tuned to find out…

Longwood Fellows “POP” into the Scott Arboretum!

(written by Sara Levin, photographs by Raakel Toppila)

The Professional Outreach Project (POP) is an annual collaboration between the Longwood Graduate Fellows and various horticulture organizations.  Recent projects have included developing a garden design concept for the Delaware Health and Social Services and creating a meadow management plan for Bartram’s Garden in Philadelphia.

The 2011 Professional Outreach Project is now underway! This year the Longwood Graduate Fellows are teaming up with the Scott Arboretum of Swarthmore College.   The Scott Arboretum encompasses the entire Swarthmore College campus and it is free and open to the public every day.  The beautiful grounds helped Swarthmore gain the title as one of the most beautiful campuses in the country.  In their work with the Scott Arboretum, the Fellows will look at two major issues: membership growth and strategies to increase student and community interaction with the Arboretum.

The Fellows begin this year’s project with extensive research.  They hope to get a better understanding of the Scott Arboretum, its staff, vision, programs and connection to Swarthmore College.  They will look at the curriculum and event calendar at Swarthmore to find ways to link the College to the Arboretum.  They will also benchmark other university arboreta and gardens to determine best practices for connecting students to the collections.  Finally, the Fellows will research cultural events in the Philadelphia area that may have a relevant link to programs at the Scott Arboretum.

Once they identify areas of potential growth the Fellows will give the Scott Arboretum recommendations for programs and their implementation.  The Swarthmore College events calendar will be used to add events appropriately and the Scott Arboretum’s resources will be considered to ensure the longevity of these new programs.

In the final phase of POP 2011, the Fellows will use their research to help grow the membership base by including programs and events that will attract visitors from the surrounding community.  The Fellows look forward to the product of their research in the coming weeks.  Keep up with the POP progress on the LGP blog!

Planting Hope, Harvesting Recovery (Established in 2010)

The final conceptual plan on display.

The “summer” 2010 Professional Outreach Project has officially come to a close. We’ve presented to our Advisory Committee and the DHSS Garden Project Team Steering Committee, and incorporated their edits and advice. At the end, we’ve produced a full color layout plan plus supporting documents that detail the design process, stakeholder input, and recommendations for individual garden areas and elements.

Fellows with POP Advisory Committee

Posing with the POP Advisory Committee who provided invaluable assistance along the way: Program Director Robert Lyons, UD Landscape Design Professor Jules Bruck, DE Center for Horticulture Community Gardens Manager Ann Mattingly, and DHSS Garden Project Manager Faith Kuehn. (Longwood Gardens Domestic and International Studies Coordinator Brian Trader also joined us for the presentation, and jovially agreed to take this picture!)

The culmination of our POP experience was a unique opportunity to share our conceptual plan with stakeholders and supporters during the DHSS Therapy & Community Gardens Reception and Project Review, held on October 28 at the Department of Health and Social Services’ Holloway Campus. In addition to familiar faces that we’ve collaborated with along the way, we were also joined by the Rita Landgraf, Secretary of the Delaware Department of Health and Social Services; Ed Kee, Secretary of the Delaware Department of Agriculture; and Delaware’s First Lady, Carla Markell.

James Hearsum, Paula Swearingen, and Secretary Rita Landgraf

James chats with Horticulture Therapist Paula Swearingen of Barclay Friends and Secretary Rita Landgraf of the Delaware Department of Health and Social Services.

The flyer for the event was emboldened with the phrase “Planting Hope, Harvesting Recover,” reflecting the vision for the new therapeutic and community garden.  The Fellows feel honored to have the opportunity to participate in the larger effort to develop the garden, working with a variety of public agencies and non-profit organizations who will take the garden to the next level.

Raakel Toppila and Ray Majewski

Raakel speaking to DHSS Garden Project Team member Ray Majewski, Therapy and Rehabilitation Services Director at the Delaware Psychiatric Center.

Faith Kuehn, the Plant Industries Administrator at the Delaware Department of Agriculture and manager for the project, has been a true inspiration and a pleasure to work with. Her enthusiasm for the project, organizational skills, and penchant for bringing people together has proffered an amazing experience for us, and has indeed planted hope—and the seeds—for a garden that will harvest recovery. Many thanks to her and all of the generous souls who gave their time, energy, and creativity to making our Professional Outreach Project a success.

Rebecca Pineo and Faith Kuehn

Faith and I took time to celebrate with some (virgin) strawberry daiquiris!

To download the conceptual plan and other written documentation, visit the Publications page of the LGP website at http://ag.udel.edu/longwoodgrad/publications.html.

The National Association for Mental Illness (NAMI) will be accepting donations on behalf of DHSS to make the garden a reality. To find out more, visit http://www.namide.org; indicate “Holloway Campus garden in the donation form.

An End in Sight, or is it Just the Beginning?

This week, an enormous document cumulating three months worth of research was sent out to the Professional Outreach Advisory Committee (POPAC) for review. Included in the document is the layout for the Delaware Health and Social Services (DHSS) Holloway Campus community and therapeutic garden, which we will present to POPAC as well as the DHSS Garden Project Team charged with developing the garden.

The Design Charrette and Garden Layout Team (Kate, Ashby, Dongah and Aubree) have been working hard to generate the final garden layout. Their first task was to conduct a design charrette, a workshop for designers and stakeholders used to generate a design based on the requirements specified in the design program. Fifteen local professionals donated their creative energy to the project by participating in the day-long charrette at DHSS Holloway Campus. Three teams broke out into two brainstorming sessions in which they generated a rough layout for the future garden. At the end of the day the entire group worked together to transform their ideas into a single garden layout. The Design Charrette and Garden Layout Team then tweaked and translated those ideas to create a functional diagram and a conceptual layout plan for the proposed garden.

Design team breakout session, photo by Dongah Shin

The Green Team's garden layout sketch

Working with the group to generate the garden layout, photo by Dongah Shin

With the design in hand, all of the Fellows generated recommendations and ideas for individual garden areas and elements. The document includes information such as recommended heights for raised beds, materials for pathways, and garden construction phasing. To complement the written recommendations, a collection of images demonstrates ideas such as the garden planting palette, vertical gardening elements, and the appearance of the garden entrances.

On October 28, the Fellows will be attending an event at DHSS to present the final garden layout and recommendations to members of the community and DHSS employees. The goal is to generate interest and funds to help make the garden a reality. Though this will mark the end of our Professional Outreach Project, the future of the garden is only just beginning.

Understanding the Vision

Over the past month, the Longwood Fellows have been conducting an investigation. Like gathering clues to solve a mystery, we’ve been communicating with stakeholders of the Delaware Department of Health and Social Service’s (DHSS) Garden Project to better understand who the garden will serve and how best to meet their needs.  The knowledge we’ve reaped will help us formulate a design for the new garden—the ultimate deliverable of this summer’s Professional Outreach Project.

The Focus Group and Design Program Team (Laura, Zoe, Felicia & James) lead the way in defining the wants and needs for the planned therapeutic and community garden. They held a focus group of DHSS staff and horticulture and art therapy professionals, met with therapists and clients at the Psychiatric Center, and conducted an online survey of DHSS employees. Feedback from these activities was captured in a written Design Program, a prioritized list of elements to include in the final design.

Faith Kuehn, manager of the DHSS Garden Project and POP Advisory Committee member, offers her thoughts about the garden during the focus group, while James attentively takes notes.

Formal information gathering sessions have only been one component of the investigation, however. Raakel, Assistant POP Leader, organized a user-centered learning activity for the Fellows at the University of Delaware Botanic Gardens. She challenged us to a scavenger hunt through the lens of simulated disabilities, including visual, audio, and physical impairments. Our experiences and observations—and a debriefing with several accessibility experts–helped us better understand the challenges of creating a universally accessible garden.

During the user-centered learning activity, Dongah and Ashby learn the importance of wide paths, Zoe experiences a hearing impairment, and James views the garden through blurred lenses. Terri Hancharick from the UD Center for Disabilities Studies provided additional insight.

Our investigations have also been rounded out by field trips.  Several Fellows visited community gardens in Wilmington under the tutelage of Ann Mattingly, Community Gardens Manager for Delaware Center for Horticulture, and member of our Professional Outreach Project’s Advisory Committee.  Ashby and Raakel visited Chicago Botanic Garden to learn more about their exemplary horticultural therapy program.  A field trip planned for next week will take us to three horticultural therapy sites in the Philadelphia area.

During the tour of community gardens, Ann emphasized the importance of community buy-in during all stages of the project.

Ashby and Raakel met with Barbara Kreski, Director of Horticulture Therapy at the Chicago Botanic Garden, who provided excellent insight into universal design.

Smooth paving and raised beds are key characteristics of the Chicago Botanic Garden's Buehler Enabling Garden.

So, now that we understand the vision, what is to be done with it? This past Wednesday, the Design Charrette and Garden Layout Team (Kate, Dongah, Ashby & Aubree) began the process of translating the vision into a plan.  On our next POP blog, you’ll see how project stakeholders, art therapy professionals, students, and designers worked together to draft ideas onto paper…a magnificent forward leap towards our final design!

Breaking Ground

The planning process for the new therapeutic and community garden at the Delaware Health and Social Sciences’ Holloway Campus is well under way. The first year Fellows have become fully immersed in the project since their arrival on July 1. Together, the Fellows serve on the Garden Design Committee, one of the four committees that will make this garden a reality.

Within our group, a Project Coordination Team, Focus Group & Design Program Team and Design Charrette & Garden Layout Team are working tirelessly to research relevant topics and make connections with stakeholders and professionals. These initiatives make up Phase 1 and Phase 2 of the project. Phase 3 involves the development of a conceptual plan for the garden, which is scheduled to be drafted by the end of August. Finally, phase 4 will comprise of the development of more detailed recommendations for individual garden areas. The entire project is scheduled to be completed by September 30. The students have a busy two months ahead of them!

On July 22, many of the Fellows were able to visit the site where a temporary demonstration garden of vegetables and herbs is thriving.  We joined the clients of the Delaware Psychiatric Center in tending the garden and discovering the scents and uses of herbs.

Zoe and James working in the garden (photo by Ashby Leavell)

A view of the temporary demonstration garden and future garden site (photo by Ashby Leavell)

Stopping to smell the herbs (photo by Dongah Shin)

Announcing the 2010 Professional Outreach Project – a garden in the making

After some thoughtful discussions, top-notch meetings, and tough decisions, the Fellows have decided on our summer project.  We’ll be developing design concepts for a new 1-acre garden at the Delaware Department of Health and Social Services’ (DHSS) Holloway Campus in New Castle, DE.

A joint venture between DHSS, the Delaware Department of Agriculture, the New Castle County Cooperative Extension, the University of Delaware’s Center for Disability Services, and the Delaware Center for Horticulture, the new garden will incorporate principles of universal accessibility and sustainable agriculture. It is envisioned as a venue for horticultural therapy, art therapy, and community gardening, as well as a place for respite and reflection.

Sounds like a great project, right? We think so too!  We’re excited to get started, and to bring the incoming class of first year students on board.

Last week, we met with two of the project masterminds--Faith Kuehn, Plant Industries Administrator for the Delaware Department of Agriculture, and Ray Majewski, Director of Therapy at Delaware Psychiatric Center. We also had a chance to chat with Bruce, head of greenhouse operations.

In addition to explaining the project, Ray and Faith gave us a tour of the future garden site.

As you can see, we have a blank slate to work with!

The 2010 Professional Outreach Project has begun!

The end of April marked the first stages of planning for this year’s Professional Outreach Project, which we Fellows affectionately refer to as “POP.” It’s a summer-long effort in which all ten students work together to complete a volunteer project on behalf of a local public horticulture institution.

The five first year students began by discussing topics we’d like to explore, narrowing it down to the big three: community outreach, urban greening, and volunteer programs.  Now, we’re canvassing a few local institutions to see whether they might need assistance with a project in one of these areas.

Soon we’ll gather again to discuss the potential projects and make our final decision. Then, we’ll conduct some preliminary research, split into project teams, bring the newest Fellows on board, and earnestly embark on the busy but rewarding experience of POP 2010.

Stay tuned to the blog for more updates throughout the summer.  (There will be no POP quizzes, I promise…)

Blast from the past: The 2009 project culminated in a Meadow Management Plan for Bartram’s Garden in Philadelphia (below). Check out other past POPs on the Longwood Graduate Program’s “Publications” web page.