Blog Archives

Freeholders Congratulate Horticultural Therapist on Published Article

Laura DePrado, right, accepts a 2016 Horticultural Therapy Week proclamation from then-Freeholder Director Pat Walsh.

The Somerset County Board of Chosen Freeholders congratulates horticultural therapist Laura DePrado of Branchburg on her recent article in the American Horticultural Therapy Association’s Journal of Therapeutic Horticulture.

“Raising Awareness of Horticultural Therapy with the Seed of ‘National Horticultural Therapy Week’ and Roots of New Jersey Agriculture” appears in the journal’s fall issue.

The article recounts her successful efforts, with the help of state Sen. Kip Bateman and former Assemblywoman Donna Simon, to make New Jersey the first state in the nation to celebrate Horticultural Therapy Week during the third week in March, starting in 2016. Gov. Chris Christie signed the joint legislative resolution into law in May 2015.

The New Jersey Senate and Assembly resolutions, along with proclamations from Rep. Leonard Lance and from the Board of Freeholders, were presented at a freeholders’ meeting in February 2017. (more…)

Autumn blooms with horticultural therapy and community connections

Blooming through the Seasons in purposeful and meaningful activities that guide connection and engagement, and bring about success for all. ~ Courtesy of Laura DePrado

The Monarch Butterfly migrates to seek new life. Leaves are turning brilliant golds, reds and bronze at their own seasonal pace across the canvas of the landscape. Leaves are dropping. Trees, shrubs, and summer’s flowers bloom are no more. 

October is falling into a cornucopia of mums, pumpkins, gourds, corn stalks, celosia, pansies, cabbages and kales, while Horticultural Therapy and community connections are blooming and creating another landscape in the making. (more…)

Cultivating special populations programs at the Somerset County libraries

The Warren Township Library branch hosted a Special Needs Social Hour program. These programs are designed for adults with special needs to meet new people and explore fun and interesting activities including music, art, yoga, gardening, crafts, and more. This program explored container gardening with Laura DePrado of Final Touch Plantscaping, LLC. (courtesy photo)

Somerset County libraries’ Warren Township Library branch began offering programs for adults with developmental disabilities in September 2016. The Library has offered over half a dozen programs thus far, and plans to expand the initiative in the future. The participants have enjoyed bingo, yoga, jewelry making, music, dancing, gardening, and more.

“I am delighted that SCLSNJ offers various recreational and developmental programs for adults in our community with developmental disabilities. These programs offer a chance for adults with developmental disabilities to socialize and to learn the necessary skills that will help them lead full, fulfilling lives.


Horticultural Therapy Program at Somerset Adult Day Center Celebrates Anniversary

Three years ago this month the Horticultural Therapy program at the Adult Day Center (ADC) of Somerset County in Bridgewater was introduced. ~Courtesy of the Adult Day Center of Somerset County

Three years ago this month, the horticultural therapy program at the Adult Day Center (ADC) of Somerset County in Bridgewater was introduced.  

The program was named “Horticultural Connections” by the members of the nonprofit agency committed to providing affordable day services for disabled and elderly residents of Somerset County. Through the seasons members, caregivers, staff, students and volunteers plant, connect, and benefit from the hands-on activities using materials from New Jersey growers.  (more…)

Somerset County youth at risk grows more than plants

For the first time in its 45-year history, Middle Earth introduced Horticultural Therapy program in partnership with Horticultural Therapist Laura DePrado, president of Final Touch Plantscaping LLC, Branchburg.
(Photo: ~Courtesy of Middle Earth)

For the past 45 years, Middle Earth, a nonprofit agency serving at risk youths in Somerset County, has served almost 1,000 youths through 12 mentoring, education, employment readiness and college readiness programs.

For the first time this year, a horticultural therapy program sprouted through a new partnership with me, as horticultural therapist and president of Final Touch Plantscaping, of Branchburg. The horticultural therapy workshops in the Art House Initiative Program were made possible in part by funds from the New Jersey State Council on the Arts. A series of workshops took place at the Bound Brook Community Youth Center throughout May and June. Youth from Middle Earth’s Promise, Center, and Journeys programs participated. Promise is a probation-based program for youth. Center is open to all Somerset County youth ages 12 to 18, and Journeys is a program for youth who need more intensive life skills and mentoring.


A summer of wellness means healthy minds, healthy bodies

Research reveals gardening has a positive effect on our mental health.
(Photo: ~Courtesy of Laura DePrado)

Research reveals gardening has a positive effect on our mental health. Gardening, planting and planting activities keeps us connected to other living things, allows us to be nurturers, and a sense of responsibility.

Being with plants and flowers allows us to relax, reduces stress, increases physical activity, and allows us to be in the moment, focusing on the present, and connects us to the seasonal cycles and rhythms of nature. (more…)

Atlantic Health leading the way in healing arts

Horticultural Therapy with Laura DePrado, Registered Horticultural Therapist of Final Touch Plantscaping LLC, was launched earlier this year.(Photo: ~Courtesy of Laura DePrado)

Incorporating nature as a partner in creative/expressive arts therapy practices for health and well-being is a growing phenomenon. Creative/expressive arts practices such as art therapy, music therapy and horticultural therapy, are earning a place in treatment and one health system in New Jersey is leading the way in its application in the rapidly changing health care landscape in the state and across the nation.


Horticultural therapist honored with Chairman’s Award

MaryAnne McMillan (left), immediate past president of the American Horticultural Therapy Association, looked on as Assemblyman Robert Andrzejczak (right), chairman of the Agriculture & Natural Resources Committee, presented Laura DePrado with the Chairman’s Award. Photo courtesy of Jonathan Atwood, legislative director.

TRENTON, NJ — Laura DePrado of Branchburg in Somerset County, NJ, and president of Final Touch Plantscaping LLC received the Chairman’s Award from the Agriculture & Natural Resources Committee of the New Jersey Senate and General Assembly at the State Capitol, here, during celebration of Horticultural Therapy Week New Jersey. The award was presented by Assemblyman Robert Andrzejczak (D-1), chairman of the Agriculture & Natural Resources Committee, at the display showcasing horticultural therapy in Goldfinch Square.


Green Fingers and Smiling Eyes: Its Horticultural Therapy Week in the Garden State

Horticultural therapy programs offer cognitive, social and physical benefits with year-round application indoors and outdoors

Collette has a traumatic brain injury. She created a terrarium, a garden in a jar, at her own pace in horticultural therapy session in a rehabilitative setting.

Paul is new to adult day care. During his first month he was sad, and felt socially isolated, so he didn’t speak. But then he participated in a horticultural therapy activity. He engaged with the plant material and project at hand. He started singing, and connecting to people (more…)

Former Jets player has ‘Anew’ beginning

Anew Wellness, Jerome Mitchell, CEO, Candice Deglon, Managing Director, and Vernon Gholston, Executive Vice President, connecting with plants in a Horticultural Therapy activity facilitated by Laura DePrado of Final Touch Plantscaping, LLC., in preparation for March 10th in-house workshop. (Photo: ~Courtesy of Laura DePrado)

Anew Wellness in Somerset aims to create a path to wellness for individuals and families experiencing mental and behavioral challenges for adults and adolescents.

Vernon Gholston is starting Anew. The former Ohio State football phenom was selected by the New York Jets with the sixth overall pick in the 2008 National Football League Draft.

Today, following four years in the NFL, the former defensive end/linebacker who grew up in Detroit, Michigan, excelled as a student athlete, ran countless yards and took and gave hit after hit, is pursuing a passion to destigmatize mental health, change the industry standards and better the lives of people dealing with mental health issues. (more…)