Social inclusion, Community development, The most important topic is steering social servic

Shared gardens, healing gardens shortlist

People with disabilities benefit from a sense of security and harmony in inspiring and calming environment. Therapeutic gardens develop healing, natural, aesthetic, community and education potentials,


Who is behind this?

Štefan Szabó



Who is joining forces?


Idea pitch

Therapeutic gardens can aid various disabilities and provide physical, social and emotional rehabilitation through meaningful communal activity in the nature. Together with social organizations and disabled people, we will create a shared garden space for ecotherapy, artetherapy and ergotherapy. Collectively planned and constructed herbal beds, artworks, sensual pathways, exercise places or workshops will become an inspiring example for medical, social facilities and schoolyards in the region.

Where will your project idea take place?

Družstevná pri Hornáde village, Eastern Slovakia, ecological educational centre SOSNA

What is the specific societal challenge faced by this region?

The key problem is the current state of education and raising of children with special needs and disadvantages. These children are often segregated in “special schools” and social facilities, so their integration and education is insufficient. The situation has been similar or worse for the adults. Around the world, for appropriate cases, drug treatments are being replaced by various nature- and art-based therapies, with strong emphasis on the community, and garden therapy is one of the good examples. Despite its high efficiency, the garden and nature therapy methods are almost unknown and inexisting in Slovakia. Our proposal aims to develop a sample Therapeutic garden in our village, accessible by and available to general public, as well as to clients from various nearby facilities.

Who are you doing it for?

Our target group are people with disabilities and special needs, who are often excluded from decision-making and development processes. With their parents, teachers, caretakers, they all are potential beneficiaries of garden therapy services. Through the process of planning and development of the therapeutic garden, all needs and solutions gained from beneficiaries will be considered in a democratic setting. Young people with Down’s and Asperger’s syndrome have genuinely enjoy gardening works and have unconventional solutions, are creative, and have a sense for art beauty. These skills will be used to create a community space with healing spirit. This process will be participatory, involving all the important stakeholders: therapists, gardeners, artists and the clients themselves.

How do you plan to get there?

The first step will be a joint planning workshop with the community of organizations and their clients. Together, we’ll plan and prepare the core design of the therapeutic garden, containing all the necessary components. The second step will be building and modifying the parts of the garden step-by-step. This will consist of e.g. workshops for working with the herbs, creating artworks, components for sensory perception by touch, smell, hearing and sight or facilities for outdoor exercise for disabled people. The last step will be testing the therapeutic garden by the clients and creating improvements and adaptations. Part of the process will be preparing Garden therapy festival to celebrate common work and share idea for public. This experience will be included in a published Handbook.

What are the expected results?

The results will be:
• A beautiful natural and artistic garden, with spaces and nooks, tailored to the different needs of visitors.
• Places for garden work, therapy and exercise, information boards on medicinal herbs,
• Raised herbal beds for disabled people on wheelchairs, quiet places for meditation, a natural pond to enjoy animals, sensual pathways, or space for workshops of processing of herbs.
• People with various troubles and needs, can find peace, harmony, beauty, happiness and self-realization.
• Rising interest in garden therapy among physicians, therapists, teachers, caretakers, parents and clients and local and national government actors.
• The local community in our village is proud to have such a beautiful and helpful place here.

How does your idea strengthen active citizenship at a local and community level?

People with the need of therapy ought to have the right to choose their way of treatment. In our region, these choices are very limited. To changes this, we can count on already existing active approach of communities of clients who will participate in the development of a Therapeutic garden. Our Ecological Center SOSNA is surrounded by a Natural garden which has been built with the cooperation of volunteers and local Roma people and we are already working together with several schools, NGOs and social service facilities, dealing with disabled people. The existing community provides an appropriate base for further development of local activism and integration of our target group into building and using a shared place, which can also serve as an example for other communities.

Why is this idea important to you?

We have a long term experience with innovative and progressive solutions for various communities, and idea of Therapeutic natural garden is a natural continuation of the vision. We built our Ecocentre and Hobbit house as one of the first Eco houses in region, introduced various ecological solutions: composting toilets, green roofs, rainwater gardens. We've changed about 20 schoolyards to inspiring Natural gardens. Now we would like to use our experience in the field of therapy. Many people with special needs, who have visited our garden, have become our friends and we wish to improve their quality of life. An old lady with severe depressions, sat on the bank of our small pond, enjoying the beauty around and quietly contemplated: “If only I could stay here, this garden would heal me...“

€ 48500,-

Total budget

€ 48500,-

Funding requested from Civic Europe

Major expenses

Personnel costs and payments under civil contracts 30660
Material, garden tools and plants, transport 6710
Garden technique (wood chipper, composting bin, mover) 700
Healing garden fest 2000
PR and info material (brochures, info panels for garden elements, T shirts, web) 3870
Work meetings, trainings and seminars 300
Travel and refreshment 300
Technical resources 1200
Office expenses 2760

What do you need from the Civic Europe community?

We would like to get practical advice and ideas for inspiration and useful therapeutic elements, which use all the senses in the garden. All comments and ideas are welcome!


Stefan Szabó


Idea created on May 20, 2020
Last edit on Aug. 3, 2020

Write comment