2022 – Central District All Faculty Symposium – Horticulture, Florida-Friendly Landscaping (FFL)
J. Sullivan, UF IFAS Extension, Osceola County, Florida
Situation: Interest in food production, security and equity, and outdoor activity is increasing among people of diverse ages and backgrounds. The pandemic boosted these interests and people started seeking more time outdoors, home-based projects, stress-reduction, and employment. This translated into gardening pursuits, horticultural businesses, and programs like community and school gardens, therapeutic gardening programs and vocational horticulture programs. As demand for horticulture programming grows, Agents become increasingly involved. With the establishment of UF’s Horticultural Therapy Certificate Program and widespread interest in the human benefits of horticulture, the Florida Horticulture for Health Network (FHHN) emerged. The FHHN aims to facilitate connections and learning opportunities for those involved with people-focused horticulture programs. “Horticulture for Health” includes programs and services that utilize horticulture to improve health, like horticultural therapy programs, Master Gardener programs, accessible gardens, nutrition education, or food equity initiatives. The objectives of the Agent were to assist with building the FHHN and cultivate a partnership with the organization. Methods: The Agent collaborated with diverse professionals, contributing technical expertise to the FHHN, including content development and review of their educational website and materials and facilitating and presenting webinars. Results: The FHHN launched in 2021, with the mission to support horticulture for health initiatives through networking, knowledge exchange, and capacity building. The FHHN now has a website, social media, and offers educational webinars to people worldwide. The FHHN offers opportunities for Extension Agents to: 1) Showcase horticulture programming through webinars, articles, blogs, etc. 2) Network and collaborate with others involved in horticulture programming 3) Learn about using horticulture to enhance human health 4) Connect with interns and volunteers to assist with horticulture for health programming. Conclusion: Extension professionals can contribute to the educational efforts of the FHHN while connecting with people who have the common goal of improving people’s lives through horticulture.