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4 ways gardening can benefit your mental health

There’s something special about getting your hands dirty and feeling nature’s creations at your fingertips.


Whether it’s the reward of growing a vegetable from a seed to an edible plant or deeply breathing in the fragrant scent of fresh flowers, gardening is beneficial for the mind, body, and soul. This May, for Mental Health Awareness Month, we went to Baton Roots, our community farm, to hear from the farm manager and volunteers about how gardening is beneficial to their mental health.


 

Soil releases feel-good neurotransmitters

Did you know that bacteria found in soil can activate brain cells that produce serotonin?


Serotonin is a chemical messenger that impacts brain cells related to mood, sexual desire and function, appetite, sleep, memory and learning, temperature regulation, and some social behavior. No wonder playing in the dirt can be a fun way to de-stress. And it’s not just researchers who believe this. Farm volunteers say so too.


“I have been needing to get out of the house and wanting to get involved with the community more,” Sow Good Saturday volunteer Taylor Anderson says. “So I enjoyed being here and getting to meet new people and harvest potatoes. There’s a dopamine hit you get from doing something new, exercising, and being one with nature. I am hot, sweaty, and tired, but it was worth it in the end.”


Growing is a grounding practice that requires being present


In a modern, fast-paced world where multitasking is normalized, the ability to focus on one task at a time and be fully present can feel like a challenge.


Growing requires patience, care, and undivided attention. It’s a practice that slows you down and roots you in the present moment.


“I feel more at peace with my day-to-day and overall general work/life balance because I have a job that energizes me,” farm manager Hannah Wascomb says. “And being outside does wonders for my mental health.”



Plants have holistic benefits for the body


Plants are all-around good for the environment and its inhabitants. Plants can produce oxygen, resulting in easier breathing, they can be used as ailments and natural remedies, and nourish our bodies with vitamins and nutrients.


“Eating healthy is a part of your mental health. If you eat good, you feel good,” Sow Good Saturday volunteer Monica Weston says.


But there’s more to plants than just consuming them. Even viewing them has benefits.


In a Japanese study, simply viewing plants altered EEG (a test that detects abnormalities in brain waves) recordings and reduced stress, fear, anger, and sadness, as well as reducing blood pressure, pulse rate, and muscle tension. So, the takeaway? Go look at some plants for a natural cheer-up.


Farming allows you to eat the fruits of your labor


At Baton Roots, volunteers and community members harvest fresh produce and wildflowers at the farm. Vegetables like potatoes, green onions, and snap peas aren’t ready overnight, but when they are, it’s a celebration.


Everyone in the community benefits when we take the time to plant seeds and water them as they grow.

“I have more hope in my ability to affect positive change for the community especially when I’m doing something so tangible like farming,” Wascomb says.

Walls Project challenges you to go outside today. Spend time with nature. Take a moment of pause for your mental health. If you don’t want to do it alone, join us. Volunteer with Baton Roots by registering here.


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