Neuro-Health through Native Gardens

Supportive Living, Inc. (SLI) provides affordable, supportive housing to brain injury survivors. SLI’s Cape Ann facility, Old Farm Rockport, is a renovation of the historic Old Farm Inn at Halibut Point, which opened to residents in 2014 and houses 8 local, low-income residents. SLI offers neuro-wellness programs to over 150 individuals living with brain injury and other neurological conditions each year, providing recreation and fitness opportunities designed to improve physical, cognitive, emotional and social wellness.

Programs include: Neuro-Fit, an evidence-based assisted exercise program serving 100 individuals each year at the Cape Ann YMCA; music, art, dancing and yoga classes led by professional instructors; enrichment events in collaboration with Rockport Music and Halibut Point State Park; and Flower Buds, a therapeutic horticultural program engaging clients and volunteers in assembling bouquets from flowers grown on-site to deliver to community recipients. Flower Buds participants have demonstrated improved physical, social and emotional wellness by engaging with nature, using their hands and senses, having a sense of purpose, working as a team, engaging with volunteers and spending time outdoors.

Based on the success of Flower Buds, SLI proposes a new therapeutic horticultural project—Neuro-Health through Native Gardens. This project will engage at least 50 individuals living with neurological conditions and 50 local volunteers who will work with a native plant specialist to establish a meadow of native flowers and grasses on 15K sq. ft. of street-facing land at Old Farm Rockport. The native plant specialist will plant in the spring and fall, and nurture the plantings during the season with volunteer support from the Boy Scouts. This new, highly-visible, outdoor space will promote the value of native plant habitats and be used for nature-based, neuro-health programs for an increasing number of people on Cape Ann living with neurological conditions.

Funded by Rockport, MA (March 2024)