Happy April! If you did not know, April is National Garden Month. National Garden Month was first celebrated in April of 1987, with President Reagan signing it into a proclamation. The National Gardening Association encourages “everyone to grow gardens, give plants to others, and help beautify our communities.” This wellness blog will detail the importance of gardening, and give your department some great resources to consider using in starting or improving upon a community garden.
To many, gardening is very therapeutic. Research tends to back up this claim. According to the Michigan State University extension, “Gardening has emerged in recent years as a scientifically proven stress reliever.” Additionally, a study done by the Journal of Health Psychology determined gardening gave test subjects a higher decrease in stress levels than reading.
Gardening even has some surprising physical benefits! According to the NCRPA wellness toolkit, “An hour of light gardening can burn as many calories in the average adult as spending an hour walking 3.5 miles. Gardening can increase physical activity in children, and has also been linked to greater physical activity and life satisfaction in seniors.”
The CDC considers gardening a moderate level activity. “Gardening is an excellent way to get physical activity. Active people are less likely than inactive people to be obese or have high blood pressure, type 2 diabetes, osteoporosis, heart disease, stroke, depression, colon cancer, and premature death.”
So far, we have discussed the physical and mental benefits of gardening, but what about all of the nutrition benefits from all of the fresh produce gardening produces? According to CNN.com, the benefits of gardening are bountiful for the following reasons. First, the food produced from gardening is the freshest you can get. Additionally, people who garden generally eat more fruits and vegetables than people who do not garden.
Interested in starting a garden in your community? The following resources will give you a great start!
The NCRPA Wellness initiative has a variety of resources regarding starting, maintaining, or improving upon a garden in your community. First, check out this great resource on the NCRPA Toolkit. Additionally, our wellness webinar from February 2016 covered community gardens and offers a lot of good ideas regarding starting, maintaining, and programming from a community garden in Black Mountain, NC.
Additionally, consider this resource from the American Community Garden Association which details 10 Steps to starting a community garden.
Another piece of advice is to reach out to other recreation and park departments throughout the state to hear about their garden programs. There are a number of community gardening programs run by our agencies, and they can offer great advice.
If your department has a successful garden program, I’d love to know about it! Email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Until next time,