Therapeutic Gardening & Nature Programs

Therapeutic Gardening & Nature

Hidden Acres’ is a beautiful 81-acre farm with wooded trails, streams, and a pond. Time spent in nature improves mood and lowers stress; increases curiosity and critical thinking; improves confidence and self-esteem; and increases feelings of being grounded and connected. At Hidden Acres, we incorporate our well-maintained trails into programs using nature-based mindfulness and grounding exercises and creative exploration and learning.

The beneficial value of gardening and working with and around plants and nature has been well studied and documented. Just being able to view nature has been shown to improve health. Our gardening program incorporates principles and practices of therapeutic horticulture. The American Horticultural Therapy Association defines therapeutic horticulture as the process through which participants enhance their well-being through active or passive involvement in plant and plant-related activities.

Gardening has been shown to lower anxiety levels, increase attentiveness and memory, reduce stress and improve mood, spark creativity, and improve physical health and strength. Our garden programs also emphasize positive social interaction, engagement, and inclusion, promoting a sense of community.

Adaptive Gardening Summer Sessions

Two six-week group programs through June-July and July-September, meeting weekly for 1 hour. Allows participants to engage in meaningful garden activities as they work to plant, care for, and harvest vegetables, herbs, and flowers. Our adaptive gardening group is designed and adapted to any participants who would like to learn new skills through gardening. Our accessible garden spaces allow all who would like to participate to be a part of our gardens. This program is especially for anyone with any physical or mental disabilities.

Bloom Where We Grow Elder Program

Our accessible garden and shaded workspace are specifically designed to accommodate people of all mobility levels. This program is specific to our elder population and focuses on engaging the senses, creating community, and boosting mood. Meeting weekly, for 1 hour, for 4-weeks, this group program is garden-based with meaningful activities that engage all the senses while encouraging social interaction.

Growing Together Youth Program

Customized to meet the needs of youth, this group program is suitable for those 18 and under who may struggle with some depression, anxiety, isolation, stress, peer pressure, attention difficulties, or self-esteem. Meeting for 1.5 hours once a week, for 4-weeks, part of each session will include learning nature-based mindfulness/ grounding techniques, and part will incorporate a garden-based activity that ties into that week’s focus.

Wellness in the Woods Adult Program

A program for anyone over the age of 18 looking for ways to promote self-care through restorative nature and garden-based practices. Great for those who struggle with some depression, anxiety, attention difficulties, isolation, or for anyone who wants to create positive change in their life. This program meets once per week for 1.5 hours, for four sessions. Each week will incorporate nature-based mindfulness on our wooded trails and related garden-based activities. This group program emphasizes positive social interaction, engagement, and inclusion.

Contact us for more information.

[email protected] or (203) 723-0633

Wellness Programs

Cancer Survivors


Senior Sensory

Trauma Survivors


Journey into Awareness

Adult Equine Assisted Learning

Horses are dynamic, graceful and gentle creatures that provide us with the opportunity to learn valuable information about ourselves. This program takes attendees on a “journey” with horses through a series of unmounted (not riding) activities designed to build greater self-awareness, improve relationships and apply the special lessons learned from horses to daily life.

The Hidden Key Project

Equine Facilitated Healing Experience For Cancer Survivors

Health is not just about living disease free. Horses live in the moment and reach to connect with people without judgement of health or physical status. Workshop participants will have the opportunity to engage in meditative, healing interactions with Hidden Acres therapy horses. Using mindfulness principles and guided by a licensed mental health provider, activities will focus on breathing, awareness, mindful grooming, and developing a connection to both nature and the relationships around us.

Seniors Sensory Enrichment Program

Hidden Acres provides a memory and sensory enrichment program for seniors in the Naugatuck area. Seniors will be guided in activities created to embrace sensory stimulation and integration including grooming horses, working in the sensory garden, and experiences in nature. Special attention is paid to creating and encouraging memories and providing opportunities to share memories through storytelling and expressive arts.

Me Too, We Hear You

A Horse Guided Exploration of Self and Relationships After a Sexual Trauma

Working with horses provides a unique opportunity for individuals who face a wide spectrum of social and emotional challenges, including survivors of sexual assaults and those with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. Being in the presence of a horse encourages people to focus on mindfulness, self-awareness, compassion for self, empathy, and trust building.

Workshop participants will have the opportunity to engage in powerful, healing interactions with Hidden Acres Therapy horses in a trauma informed setting. Using mindfulness principles and guided by a licensed mental health provider, activities will focus on personal safety, boundaries, honest communication and the building blocks of trusting relationships.

Contact Rebecca Caruso, LCSW for more information about adult programs.

[email protected] or (203) 516-8380.