• Jennifer Jewell

PERLA CURBELO, HORTICULTURAL THERAPY, PUERTO RICO: HEALING GARDENS #3


Even as a girl growing up in Puerto Rico, Perla Sofía Curbelo recognized that the simple act of picking flowers for her mother to put out in their home made everything more pleasant. This week, we continue our exploration of the healing and therapeutic effects of gardens, plants, and nature. We’re joined in this third conversation by Perla who recently received her Horticultural Therapy Certificate from the Chicago Botanic Garden and puts it to ever greater use in her homeland of Puerto Rico.


Born and raised in Puerto Rico, Perla Sofía is the founder of Agrochic.com, a blog in Spanish, about gardening and urban agriculture. With a background in psychology and a career as a journalist for an agricultural newspaper, Perla is a well known journalist and media contributor in Puerto Rico. Since 2009, her work has focused on promoting wellness and a healthy lifestyle through home gardening. After the devastation of Hurricane Maria in late 2017 in Puerto Rico, Perla undertook the Horticultural Therapy Certificate program through the Chicago Botanic Garden and completed the program in 2019. She is an educator, mentor, mediapreneur and a hip stepmom of two young ladies.

Perla joined us today from her home and garden in Puerto Rico,

The correlation between psychology and the environment is so interesting to me – and not an uncommon thread in the gardeners or other cultivators of place we speak with – have you all noticed this?


Perla’s background of course brought this up for me – and then it was amplified by our conversation around the food security issue of her area of the world being made so clear to her in the wake of Hurricane Maria. That line between our most basic needs – food, water, shelter – is directly related to our baseline sense of security – right? And that baseline sense of security is everything to our most ancient instincts and motivators.


We want to feel safe and secure. And if you ever need a reminder about the abundance of this world – the incredible opulent riches all around us – just go outside to some green space – get yourself to a river or farmers market, your own little garden and if you don’t have that right now – to a park or a meadow or forest. This planet offers us beauty and food, safety and abundance if we care for it. That is the ultimate security –the ultimate mental and physical health - taking good care of what cares for us – our own bodies, minds and spirits, and the body, intelligence and spirit of this planet.



Follow Perla's enthusiastic work and journey with Agrochic on line: agrochic.com and on Instragram: agrochic




Join us again next week when we we continue our multi week series on healing and the garden when we’re joined by Perla Curbelo, a plantswoman and gardener in Puerto Rico, who has recently completed her Horticultural Therapy Certificate through the Chicago Botanic Garden.

UPCOMING CULTIVATING PLACE LIVE EVENTS: click green title links for more info or to register!

- SPRING FEVER Feb 26th & 27th (12:30 pm each day) Northwest Flower & Garden Show Seattle, WA

- MRS. DALLOWAY'S BOOKS - FEBRUARY 28, Berkeley, CA 7:30 - 9 pm


- CHICO WOMEN'S CLUB - SUNDAY MARCH 1, 1 - 3:30 pm Book signing, refreshment, home-town celebration! RSVP required for FREE event JOIN US!

Mark your calendars - I hope to meet you wherever you cultivate your place in the coming year

Thinking out Loud this week...

I love this whole conversation – but there are two sections that are especially poignant to me – when Perla shares her realization that flowers and plants had been her friends and companions in her life from very early on, she’d just forgotten it for a bit – the temporary plant blindness of early adulthood and all its uncertainty – and then her visit to the Chicago Botanic Garden for the Garden Communicator’s Conference in the summer of 2018, after she had just applied to be part of the Horticultural Therapy Certificate Program, and she saw herself there in the garden as a professional student in the program – she had set her goal and the she saw herself meeting that goal.


That part gave me the shivers a bit – you know the way that happens. It’s that moment in the stories of so many of my guests where the universe gives them the clearest signal of: this is where you are headed. This is where you are meant to be.


I love those moments. They happen. And in my life they often come on the wings on flowers and plants, trees and shrubs, buds and seeds. Even compost.


Pay attention – listen closely – our green family send us messages every day – messages of health and security, safety, caution, and love. This is part of the healing power of landscapes and gardens – I truly believe this and my garden confirms it everyday. Hoping yours does too on this Valentine’s Day week.


The gifts of your garden – literal and figurative are the best valentines there are.

Together we grow.

Hoping to share and cultivate place with many of you!

UPCOMING CULTIVATING PLACE LIVE EVENTS: click green title links for more info or to register!

- SPRING FEVER Feb 26th & 27th (12:30 pm each day) Northwest Flower & Garden Show Seattle, WA

- MRS. DALLOWAY'S BOOKS - FEBRUARY 28, Berkeley, CA 7:30 - 9 pm


- CHICO WOMEN'S CLUB - SUNDAY MARCH 1, 1 - 3:30 pm Book signing, refreshment, home-town celebration! RSVP required for FREE event JOIN US!

Mark your calendars - I hope to meet you wherever you cultivate your place in the coming year

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