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SMCC Program


Cultivating Well-Being's program on the campus of Southern Maine Community College was a therapeutic horticulture initiative, designed to mitigate the effects of stress, anxiety, and depression, primarily among college students, though faculty and staff also participated. As humans get stressed, our ability to concentrate, for example, completing academic assignments. Our bodies are more likely to become ill. Cultivating Well-Being's program implements the Attention Restoration Theory (Kaplan and Kaplan) to increase the ability to focus and reduce stress. Sessions typically run for 1.5 hours. Special community-building sessions were also facilitated. In Spring, 2022 participants cultivated and harvested greens grown in the hydroponics system and delivered them to the student food pantry, nourishing the SMCC community in mind, body, and spirit. (Photos of sessions may be viewed on the Gallery page.)

Some therapeutic outcomes:

  • Increase ability to focus/clarity of mind

  • Establish self-care awareness goals

  • Reduce feelings of isolation through social interactions

  • Acquire a positive sense of self

  • Improve mental health and overall wellness  

  • Strategies to reduce the influence of stress, anxiety, and depression

"With 3 minutes of plant interaction, relaxation improved in college students."

Park, SA, C. Song, YA, Oh, Y Miyazaki, and KC Son. 2017. doi:10.3390/ijerph 14091087.


Other partners with whom we've done programming

  • SARSSM (Sexual Assault Services of Southern Maine)

  • Thomas Memorial Library in Cape Elizabeth (indoor wintertime sessions)

  • Cultivating Community

  • South Portland Land Trust

  • South Portland Library

  • Friends of Fort Williams Park

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