Gardening can be good for your health says local health expert
Sunday, May 29, 2011 - 7:54 am

By CAROL ZIMMERMAN, Healthy Small Business Project Coordinator for St. Lawrence Health Initiative, Inc.

Can gardening really be good for your health? According to Edward O. Wilson, a Harvard University entomologist, humans have an innate affinity for nature. In 1984, he coined the term “biophilia” referring to humans’ “love of living things.” Since we are part of the living world, we prefer to look at natural environments versus concrete and steel. In caring for plants through gardening, we are connecting with this deep rooted instinct.

Not only can we feel this compassion for the natural world but there are numerous health benefits too including lower blood pressure, increased immune function and reduced stress. Not only can you get these health benefits, but you can also get a full workout. Gardening can provide us with muscle endurance, muscle strengthening and flexibility training too. Are you willing to plant a flower box, herb garden or full vegetable garden to get these amazing health benefits? Let’s get started.

But how? First, are you growing edibles or ornamentals? Are you growing for food or beauty or both? Next you need to think size, soil and care. Are you tilling a half acre or creating a container garden? Does your soil need amending and who is going to take care of those weeds? There are a plethora of resources out there to help you get started. Cornell Cooperative Extension and Organic Gardening are just a couple. Check out these links - gardening.cornell.edu and organicgardening.com - for helpful information.

Maybe creating a garden at your home is not an option but you still want to reap those health benefits. How about becoming involved in a garden in your community, or at your school or worksite? Existing and new projects are underway through Health Initiative funding including gardens at local schools, senior housing developments and a few small businesses in St. Lawrence County. If you are interested in learning more about these projects, please log onto our website at gethealthyslc.org or call our office at 261-4760.

As the growing season comes into full swing, think about starting a garden at your home, or becoming involved in a garden at your school, in your community or at your place of work. Not only will you appreciate the beauty and feed your soul, but you will reap the many health benefits, not to mention a zucchini or sunflower too.

Carol Zimmerman is Healthy Small Business Project Coordinator for St. Lawrence Health Initiative, Inc.