Explanation of contributions
The Niagara Floral Center and Greenhouse has made tremendous progress in expanding community understanding and support of the horticulture therapy field. Examples of projects initiated by the greenhouse in order to increase public awareness and enhance the image of horticulture therapy are listed below:
- The Niagara Floral Center and Greenhouse holds promotional sales for major holidays and organizes several instructional seminars on how to create different floral items throughout the year. To publicize the sales and seminars, the greenhouse mails sales brochures highlighting the items for sale and seminar details. This mailing are distributed to more than 3,000 organizations, churches, businesses and community members throughout the area;
- Community inclusion is an important goal of the Niagara Floral Center and Greenhouse. To further this goal, the center has established relationships with area nursing homes where individuals with disabilities volunteer taking care of resident’s plants and selling the floral merchandise through cart sales. The importance and benefits of horticulture therapy are shared and experienced through these efforts as well;
- Promotion regarding the greenhouse and horticulture therapy is regularly pursued through the local media. Stories regarding upcoming sales and the work of the Niagara Floral Center and Greenhouse are submitted to area newspapers, radio stations and television and cable stations;
- The Niagara Floral Center and Greenhouse has participated in local floral and garden shows, showcasing the creations of the individuals receiving horticulture therapy;
- Opportunities Unlimited of Niagara also promotes the greenhouse and the therapy it provides through regular updates in its newsletter “Opportune Times” and monthly employee newsletter. These publications are distributed at community fairs and trade shows, and
- The sales are mainly based on a pre-order and pick-up system; therefore, community members visit the greenhouse to make their purchases. Because of this, the customers have learned about the abilities of people with disabilities and the contributions they can make when given the proper training. Community awareness of people with developmental disabilities and our horticulture therapy program has created a very beneficial donation program. People who visit learn that the greenhouse operates on donated materials, therefore a steady stream of used pots, planters and supplies show up daily at the greenhouse door and help keep costs down.
Since its development in 1995, the Niagara Floral Center and Greenhouse has been able to expand the number of individuals who receive therapy and training because of the resources acquired through a growth in sales. The increase in sales is directly related to community education efforts and the resulting public support for the program.
The Niagara Floral Center and Greenhouse has been very effective in involving others in the program. For instance, participants from the agency’s day habilitation program, which provides social, recreational and vocational training with an emphasis on community inclusion, attend the greenhouse weekly as volunteers. Staff members from day habilitation also help coordinate greenhouse cart sales at different agency sites.
Not only are staff members and individuals with disabilities involved, but family members also support the program through purchases, donations and visits to the greenhouse. In addition, the Niagara Floral Center and Greenhouse has been very active in recruiting other community groups as partners in sales, such as the Zonta Club of Tonawanda, Ingram Micro and the DeGraff Memorial Hospital Auxiliary.