Today’s guest blog post was written by Meridee Watts.
Meridee is a student of horticultural therapy at the Horticultural Therapy Institute and is working towards a degree in psychology at Liberty University. She is passionate about helping people learn how to care for their mental, emotional, and physical wellbeing. She lives in Idaho with her husband and hopes to one day open her own horticultural therapy practice in Boise.
4 Reasons Gardening is Good for Your Health
It is spring! There is a certain excitement that comes over me when I see crocuses blooming bravely and announcing the coming of warmer weather. And then the trees start budding and leafing out, and I can’t help but give little screams of joy as I drive around town.
Gardening season is here!
I know not everyone has this as their first thought, but I bet you do think about days in the park, picnics, hiking, bike rides and many other activities that allow you to enjoy nature. And if you enjoy these then you will probably love gardening as well, because working a garden is all about getting back to and caring for nature.
(By the way, there is no such thing as a “black thumb,” so don’t stop reading just because you’ve killed a few plants. You are not doomed as a gardener, you just need someone to teach you.)
Let me give you a few reasons to take up gardening this year.
- Gardening is budget friendly.
Though there are upfront costs to keeping a garden, such as buying materials to make beds, most of them will not be repeated. And if you buy quality seed and make sure you have a thick layer of good mulch a lot of money can be saved. Heirloom seeds can be saved every harvest for next year, and adding a good layer of mulch each year will keep your watering costs down. And don’t forget that any produce you grow is produce you are not buying at the grocery store!
- Gardening supports healthy eating habits.
When there are fresh cherry tomatoes, raspberries, or snap peas that your can eat right off the plant, a bag of potato chips just doesn’t sound that good. Having fresh fruits and vegetables available (in abundance) drastically changes the food choices you make because it is easier to make the right choice.
- Gardening builds community.
For those who own property and have a good size yard, gardening provides an opportunity to get to know your neighbors, because you often have too much produce for your family to eat. This allows you to share your abundance with others and get to know them in the process.
For those who live in an apartment with zero land to dig in, community gardens are popping up everywhere, and if there isn’t one nearby, you can work with your city to get one started! You can find a community garden near you (U.S. and Canada) by going to communitygarden.org.
- Gardening helps keep you mentally and emotionally healthy.
As it is commonly said, “Gardening is cheaper than therapy and you get tomatoes.” When you are eating well and have healthy community, a great step is taken towards mental and emotional health, but gardening also has benefits all of its own. There are studies that have found that gardening relieves stress, improves self-esteem, and even that there are organisms in dirt that make you happy! While gardening alone is not a substitute for professional counseling, it can be a great compliment to meeting your goals for holistic health.
So, make an investment in your health this year by playing in the dirt and watching green things grow. You won’t be disappointed. If gardening is your passion and you want a job where you can help people you should consider joining me, and so many others, in the field of horticultural therapy. To learn more about this field you can go to www.ahta.org/, or to learn about taking a certificate program go to http://www.htinstitute.org/. There are classes in multiple locations across the U.S., including Atlanta, GA starting fall 2015.