The Value of Community Gardens: Mental Health Impact

What is the first thing that comes to mind when you think about community gardens? You may be picturing a patch of land dedicated to growing fruits and veggies collaboratively, or a collection of individual plots. And you would be correct. But if you take a closer look, you’ll see much more than plants, these spaces are about opportunity. Community gardens have positive impacts on mental health, culture, economics, and environment, as well as social benefits.

Mental Health:

Check in with yourself, how are you feeling? Do a mental scan now, right where you are. Start at your toes and end with the top of your head – how is your body feeling? How is your mind feeling?

If you feel a little down, it might help to get time outside. Spending time outdoors and engaging in activities like gardening have been shown to benefit the brain. Gardening and the process of cultivating plants has therapeutic effects on the mind, promoting relaxation and a sense of accomplishment. Whether you have never touched a plant or are a gardening pro, there is no denying the benefits gardening has on our minds and bodies. Try it, you might surprise yourself.

Shady garden tour group. Photo courtesy of Chris Carreiro.

Through participation in community gardens, folks have the opportunity to connect with others who share similar interests and goals. This sense of belonging and camaraderie fosters social support networks. These relationships are essential for maintaining mental well-being. This social connection also helps combat feelings of isolation and loneliness, which are common contributors to poor mental health.Whether you’re thing is bright, colorful flowers or freshly grown broccoli, connecting with the earth can do wonders for your mental well-being. Step outside, take a deep breath, and soak in the serenity of nature. That’s the magic of spending time in community gardens.

Stress Reduction:

In modern times, finding moments of peace out in nature can be tricky. Most of us live in urban areas without much access to functional green space. Studies have shown that gardening can be a powerful stress reducer, offering a therapeutic escape from your daily routine. It has a little something to do with channelling the life our ancestors lived.

Never underestimate the power of sunlight, even if you don’t garden, sunlight exposure helps your body produce Vitamin D and serotonin (the feel happy hormone). Getting enough sunlight can be a mood booster and is known to help people stay calm and focused. Remember to be “sun safe”, wearing protective clothing and sunscreen.

In simple terms, being part of a community garden helps people feel good mentally. The beauty of community gardens is the access to fresh, seasonal produce. UF/IFAS Extension Pasco County’s Community Gardens Program assists low-income communities in the county to develop self-sustaining (food producing) community gardens, to improve quality of life. When we connect with others, work together, and learn from different cultures in the garden, it can create feelings of belonging and purpose. This helps us feel stronger and happier, making our lives better overall.

Conclusion

In conclusion, community gardening offers numerous health benefits by providing access to fresh, nutritious food, encouraging physical activity, reducing stress, and fostering a sense of community, while decreasing food costs. By participating in community gardens, individuals can improve their overall well-being while also contributing to the health and vitality of their neighborhoods.

Supervising agent: Dr. Whitney Elmore County Extension Director and Urban Horticulture Agent

Have a question?

If you have any questions about gardening in Central Florida, please contact the UF/IFAS Extension Pasco County at 352-518-0156. For more information on UF/IFAS Extension Pasco County Community Gardens, and how you can join one, visit http://sfyl.ifas.ufl.edu/pasco/.

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Julia Sirchia, Program Assistant at UF/IFAS Extension Pasco County
Posted: May 16, 2024


Category: Crops, Fruits & Vegetables, Health & Nutrition, Horticulture, UF/IFAS Extension
Tags: #RightPlantRightPlace, Central Florida, Community Garden, Community Gardens, Eating, Florida Friendly Landscaping, Food, Gardening, Gardens, Goals, Health, Healthy, Horticulture, Landscape, Landscaping, Mental Health, Nutrition, Produce, Smart Irrigation, UF/IFAS Pasco Extension Office


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