House Gardening Promotes Psychological Well being throughout COVID-19 – Meals Tank

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Home gardening is on the rise, according to COVID-19, says Rose Hayden-Smith, a retired advisor at the University of California. However, activists from food justice organizations argue that home gardening has the potential to promote emotional well-being, especially for black women and other marginalized communities.

Not only can vegetable gardening at home increase product consumption and physical activity, but it is also linked to improved emotional well-being, according to a recent study from Princeton University. The report finds that out of 15 daily recreational activities, such as walking and cycling, the vegetable garden is one of the most beneficial activities for mental and emotional health.

“Gardening combines so many things that are good for mental health – outdoors, around plants and nature, physical activity,” Diana Martin, director of communications and marketing at Rodale Institute, told Food Tank. “Something about growing food, connecting with the earth, and sharing the bounty with your neighbors and the community can help you feel rooted, connected, and grateful.”

In response to the influx of home gardeners during COVID-19, the Rodale Institute is offering a free Victory Gardens Starter Kit with a webinar on Organic Gardening 101, composting tips, and lesson plans for children.

Home gardening can also address some of the effects of long-standing social inequalities. According to a recent study in the Journal of Sustainability: Science, Practice and Policy, women, especially women of skin color, shouldered social welfare disproportionately during the pandemic. And this work could contribute to poor mental health in those responsible, according to a report by the Swiss School of Public Health.

“From a fair standpoint, assisting household gardening would be more beneficial to women and low-income gardeners,” says Dr. Ramaswami, co-author of the Princeton University study, told Food Tank. She explains that home gardening was the only activity studied that had a greater impact on the emotional well-being of women and low-income people than men and middle- and high-income people.

Jasmine Jefferson, founder of Black Girls With Gardens, also believes gardening can be a tool for self-care. Black Girls With Gardens is an online platform that provides education, support, inspiration, and community to women of color who are interested in gardening.

Jefferson noted that their website has grown in popularity since COVID-19 when more black women started gardening.

“Gardening is an act of self-preservation for black women,” Jefferson told Food Tank. “We can let go of our anger in the ground and we are still not judged by nature.

Despite the benefits of home gardening, Black, Indigenous, and Colored (BIPOC) communities have been systematically deprived of their rights to grow their own food, Jefferson says. She argues that food deserts, lack of access to high quality soil and compost, and white-dominated gardening groups with expensive membership fees all contribute to the fact that women of color do not garden.

“We oppose systematic racist policies and procedures … when we create the space to grow our own food,” Jefferson told Food Tank. “Black women have to deal with very stressful environments, high levels of fear and trauma [a] Every day. Gardening can be the escape black women need from this harsh reality of the world. “

Photo courtesy Unsplash, Benjamin Combs

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