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A Second Life for Flowers

A Second Life for Flowers

Justin T. Gellerson for The New York Times The flowers come from all sorts of places: weddings, farmer’s markets, the online florist company UrbanStems, even a first lady’s luncheon. In the truck she calls her “Bloom Mobile 1.0,” Kaifa Anderson-Hall recovers flowers from venues all over the Washington, D.C., area that would otherwise be discarded and gives them a purpose. After being preserved, often for weeks in refrigerators she keeps in the basement of a four-unit apartment building she and her husband own, those flowers take on their second job — in therapeutic activities with seniors, homeless women and people with disabilities around the city. Part education, part art therapy and part wellness activity, Ms. Anderson-Hall’s nonprofit, Plants and Blooms Reimagined , represents an enticing intersection of a number of pressing social issues: conservation; combating isolation for elders, people with disabilities and other marginalized communities; and wellness. Ms. Anderson-Hall is a horticultural therapist, a practice based on the idea that working with plants, both indoors and outside, can have therapeutic benefits. Ms. Anderson-Hall grew up in a Washington public housing complex where, she said, children weren’t allowed to play in the grass, chased off by property managers who wanted to preserve the aesthetic around the buildings. But she also lived just a few blocks from the 400-plus-acre U.S. National Arboretum. “We spent many days being free in this green space,” Ms. Anderson-Hall recalled. But it wasn’t until she joined a school program in fifth grade that she was formally invited into the arboretum, or more specifically, the Washington Youth Garden within it. There, she learned to grow food and manage her own 4-foot-by-6-foot garden plot, and decades later, she served as the director of that youth garden for six years. Ms. Anderson-Hall became a social worker. Her positive experiences […]

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