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“The glory of gardening: hands in the dirt, head in the sun, heart with nature. To nurture a garden is to feed not just on the body, but the soul.” ~ Alfred Austin, poet

Spring is a time of transitions. The snow has melted (finally!), and the earth is full bloom, creating a lush, green landscape. What better way to fully appreciate all that spring has to offer than by being in the garden!

Rooftop GardeningThere’s something satisfying about digging in the cool earth and getting your hands dirty. Feeling the soil, tending to plants, and seeing new life emerge from the fruits of your labor are rewarding, not to mention grounding – literally. Gardening gets you out into the fresh air and sunshine, which in itself helps boost mental wellness. (Make sure you wear a hat and sunscreen if you’ll be gardening for more than 15 minutes). In fact, according to research, gardening can reduce stress and anxiety – more than reading or other indoor activities. Spending a few days a week gardening even eases symptoms of depression for some people. Gardening is an escape from life’s worries and promotes a positive mood and a sense of healing. It makes sense that because plants are alive, we feel alive when we’re around them. This feeling multiplies when we’re growing the plants ourselves.

Gardening offers a personal connection with nature, and a simple way to find your balance. Similar to spending time in nature, digging in the garden can replenish your energy. One reason for this is that gardens give us critical time away from technology, which can actually make us more productive. When we give our brains a break, it gives them time to reset. Gardening and nature require a different kind of attention that doesn’t strain us the way that cell phones, TVs, and computers do.

Flowers being plantedThe satisfaction that comes with growing your own fruits, veggies, herbs, plants, and flowers, and creating something from the earth with your bare hands, is like no other. Plus, you know where your food came from. Straight from the garden produce is the best tasting, highest in nutritional value, and free of pesticides and genetically modified organisms (GMOs). You’re also reducing your carbon footprint, since the food only had to travel from your yard to your kitchen. Talk about local!

If you don’t have space for a garden in your yard, look into window boxes or community gardens. Or, call up a farm, greenhouse, or plant shop near you and ask if you might be able to spend some time there. Community gardens are places where people come together, build bridges, and transform neighborhoods. A beautiful and inspiring book that so fittingly illustrates this idea is Seedfolks. Check it out at your local library. Happy gardening!

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Community Suicide Prevention Coordinator

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