The Phoenix Garden Program at Her Majesty’s Penitentiary (HMP) in St. John’s was created by a group of volunteers who initially connected through the NLCAHR Research Exchange Group on Horticultural Therapy.  The program offers people inside the prison with an innovative arts-based curriculum that combines mindfulness and creativity with hands-on gardening and landscaping training. The Phoenix Gardeners connect to the natural world while strengthening other bonds too—to the self, to each other, and to the community.

The Phoenix Garden Speakers’ Series offers an opportunity to connect with a range of professional expertise and experience to support continuing growth and inspiration for the program.  The Speakers’ Series is available through Zoom and is open to all!  We hope you will join us for these Monday evening sessions– to meet with  a range of community, health system and academic partners who have been inspired to explore the potential of gardening for anyone who is hoping to grow new life on the inside, whether physically or metaphorically!

To obtain the Zoom Link and register for the following talks, email

Monday March 28, 2022 | 7:30-8:30pm Newfoundland Time  

Building an Ecosystem of Care: A look inside California’s Insight Gardening Program

In this talk, Jamala Taylor and Andrew Winn will tell us about the ecosystem of care that is being nourished by the Insight Garden Program (IGP), a nonprofit organization that operates in 10 California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation prisons on 12 different yards. The Insight Garden Program leverages nature to promote healing, self-awareness, hard and soft skills, and resources that nurture a successful transition during the re-entry process from incarceration back into the community. IGP demonstrates a radical love of, and a commitment to the people by providing green spaces to currently incarcerated people and access to nature to previously incarcerated people.

Monday,  April 25, 2022 | 7:30-8:30pm Newfoundland Time

The Friday Wellness Group: Re-entry into Nature in St. John’s

When you think about community gardens, you probably think of a garden’s ability to grow flowers, vegetables or fruits. What you may not think of, however, is a community garden’s ability to foster personal growth within those who tend to its crops.  That growth is evident in downtown St. John’s, thanks to a partnership between Eastern Health and The Anglican Cathedral of St. John the Baptist, and a grant from Eastern Health’s Healthy Communities Partnership Fund. Through the grant, the partners have developed a community garden downtown.  In addition, the Friday Wellness Group offers walking therapy, health, hope, and the opportunity for growth, among its members and within the community garden.  The program is designed for people who are living with addiction and/or other mental health issues. Based on principles of recovery and harm reduction, participants in the program explore ways to live healthier lives in recovery.  In this talk, Brenda Halley will tell us:

  • About the history of the Friday Wellness Group – walking & hiking to complement traditional talk therapy
  • How the group started out small with horticulture (6 small garden beds) – therapeutic farm-to-table experience
  • The dream of a greenhouse, and how it became a reality
  • How the Friday Wellness Group is surviving the pandemic
  • Looking forward to the future and possible connections with the Phoenix gardeners!

For more information, visit

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