Why garden? Benefits boost health, environment and more

Published 3:14 pm Tuesday, November 28, 2023

By Mark Carroll
Contributing writer

I recently noticed a post that claims 18.3 million households started a garden in the U.S. in 2021.
So, I wondered why? Why do we do it? Surely, the allure of dirt under our fingertips and frequent invasions by weeds and pests, and subjecting ourselves to challenging weather conditions has to be countered by some significant benefits.
Let’s look at what’s driving this trend.
Gardening offers a multitude of health benefits. Exposure to sunlight while tending to plants increases vitamin D levels, which is beneficial for bones, teeth and muscles.
It also serves as a form of low-impact exercise, especially when moving pots or wheelbarrows of soil around. Gardening may even decrease the risk of dementia and serve as a form of therapy for those already suffering from it.
Beyond physical health, gardening also has a positive impact on mental well-being. Many studies have found that gardening can boost one’s mood.
In addition to personal benefits, gardening also contributes to environmental sustainability. Plants and trees absorb carbon dioxide and release oxygen, helping to purify the air.
Gardens also ensure cleaner groundwater and help reduce soil erosion. Furthermore, home gardens can serve as a refuge for wildlife, providing shelter and food sources. Gardening is said to improve the serotonin-melatonin cycle. So, if you can’t sleep, get outside and garden.
It can be a refuge from household noise, televisions, music, and drama, sometimes a little quiet is worth the time away.
If you want kids to eat their veggies, try having them grow and harvest them so you can function stack, education, with a healthier diet. Kids and adults love observing tiny plants that turn into a productive meal.
For many, gardening is also a way to create a beautiful space, it is a creative outlet. It enhances a property’s curb appeal and can even increase its selling price. Whether it’s a robust flower bed or a small indoor garden, these green spaces add aesthetic appeal to homes.
Creating beauty also is proven to be contagious, inspiring others to grow flowers and creatively garden in the community. In fact, there are social benefits, since there are so many plants, techniques, and designs there is a lot to share with neighbors and other gardeners.
A significant number of homeowners garden to grow their own food. Tomatoes, being the most popular home grown vegetable, are found in 86% of food gardens. Growing your own produce ensures you have fresh, organic food right at your doorstep.
In conclusion, gardening is more than just a hobby for American homeowners. It’s a means to improve physical and mental health, contribute to environmental sustainability, beautify homes, and provide fresh produce.
For me, there are so many things in life we do where the results do not provide instant gratification, but when I mow my lawn or harvest berries, I can see the fruits of my labor.

Virginia Cooperative Extension programs and employment are open to all, regardless of age, color, disability, gender, gender identity, gender expression, national origin, political affiliation, race, religion, sexual orientation, genetic information, veteran status, or any other basis protected by law. An equal opportunity/affirmative action employer. Issued in furtherance of Cooperative Extension work, Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University, Virginia State University, and the U.S. Department of Agriculture cooperating. Edwin J. Jones, Director, Virginia Cooperative Extension, Virginia Tech, Blacksburg; M. Ray McKinnie, Administrator, 1890 Extension Program, Virginia State University, Petersburg.

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