Since the pandemic people have been much more aware of the benefits of green space, whether it’s their own little patch at the back of the house, or a local park. Being cooped up inside made us appreciate how good we feel in the great outdoors, amongst trees, grass and flowers.
There is lots of scientific research that shows not only being in green space helps us but that gardening can positively contribute to our quality of life. Experts are now encouraging us to think of our gardens as mindful spaces. But not everyone is lucky enough to have a garden of their own or might not know how to approach gardening in the one they have. And that’s where community gardening can be a great place to reap the benefits of what you sow.
What can a community garden do for you?
Accessing and working in a garden is a great way to get your daily ‘green exercise’. The health benefits of physical activity are widely documented and recent research on green exercise reveals that physical activity in natural settings brings additional positive effects beyond those of indoor activity. These are healthier levels of blood pressure and cortisol, increased energy, psychological restoration, well-being, positive emotions, and higher motivation to participate in physical activities.
Gardening can play a key role in promoting mental well-being and could be used as a preventive health measure. Further, volunteering in a setting with a close connection with nature, can make us healthier and happier, and has the most profound effects on people with mental health issues or who are suffering loneliness.
Gardening provides the chance to get some beneficial outdoor activity. Light physical activity is great for the body and has many benefits for your mental health. Gardening is physical activity that you can do at your own pace. It also helps you to top us your vitamin D, something we know particularly our children might not be getting enough of.
Gardening has been shown to reduce the symptoms of stress and anxiety. It is a great mindfulness activity. Gardening can tune us into the present moment and connect us to the natural world. Activities such as weeding, watering and planting can help to put the participant into a “flow state” immersing us fully into the present and distracting from the daily grind.
Soil is good for humans – its beneficial microscopic organisms are vital for helping make our immune system efficient. Exposure to a diversity helps our immunity recognise what is good and bad for us. Modern life, with an overuse of antibiotics, more screen time and the increased use of hand sanitisers in recent times has led to a rise in auto-immunie diseases. Studies show that low immunity is linked to depression and other mental health issues. Further there’s a natural antidepressant in soil. Mycobacterium vaccae bacterium, found in soil, activates a particular group of brain neurons that produce serotonin, which makes us relaxed and happier. So getting our hands dirty in soil can act as a natural antidepressant.
Community gardens have many educational benefits too. Learning about nature and our impact on the environment engages young people in sustainability. And learning new skills and information is beneficial at any age. Learning new things brings joy. Working together in a garden helps develop soft skills like communication and team working.
Creating or improving a community garden also supports the local ecosystem and encourage wildlife diversity. Plants and trees also helps to improve air quality and lower CO2 levels. Adding plants to an otherwise built up area reduces urban heat in the summer and reduces flooding in the winter.
And finally, community gardening is a great way to meet and connect with your neighbours. The impact of loneliness of physical and mental wellbeing is significant. Being socially connected is really important and community gardening provides people with the opportunity to meet people and make new friends.
So, what can community gardening do for you? Quite a lot really. So why not join us at Eashing Cemetery Community Garden and Orchard your brand new community garden in Godalming? You can find more information and the upcoming dates here.