Since the mid 1990’s, when a conference of practitioners produced guidance on “How to set a horticultural therapy project”, there has been a steady move to providing more structure to the important work that we do.
In 2003 Thrive launched Cultivating Quality, a self assessment quality management package to help projects improve the quality of their service and almost as importantly demonstrate that level of quality to potential clients and commissioners.
In May 2009 two practitioners ran a conference in Milton Keynes for those interested taking the subject of quality further – specifically setting up standards for individual practitioners and developing a voluntary professional register.  This conference concluded that:
*    There should be a society set up particularly focused on practitioners from all fields of work, educational, therapeutic, work focused, hospital, secure setting etc., but open to all with an interest in our work;
*    It should be a membership society run by the members for the members;
*    It should have a long term aim of setting up a voluntary professional register of practitioners with associated standards of practice etc but that in doing so the system would need to recognise those with extensive experience as well as those with academic qualifications;
*    The society should seek to promote our work and liaise closely with similar organisations both at home and abroad
*    A volunteer working group would take things forward.
Regretably it has taken over three years to get to the formal launch of the Association of Social and Therapeutic Horticulture Practitioners (ASTHP).
The plan for the next 12 months is to build up membership – we have a target of 100 in the first year.  Having now held our first conference we will be reviewing our plans for 2013 based on the very positive feedback from members and those attending the conference.