Even though I wouldn’t necessarily title myself as an avid Gardener, I did grow myself some herbs, leafy greens, and small carrots & beets in my LifeSpace Garden Box on my apartment deck, 14 floors up here in Lower Lonsdale.
Gardening has many positive health benefits, especially for promoting mental and physical health. Research done by Christopher Lowry and his team at the University of Bristol in London, found that living organisms in soil stimulate happy chemicals in the brain! This was due to the soil bacteria stimulating a mouse’s brain to produce serotonin, which is the neurotransmitter responsible for maintaining mood balance. This exciting finding sparked further research that could be applied to human studies on soil bacteria acting as a mild-antidepressant and strengthening the immune system (1).
Gardening is also awesome because of the physical activity involved! Exercise produces endorphins. Endorphins are the feel good hormones, so again, it can help turn that frown upside down! It requires you to squat down, pull out those anchored roots, push a loaded wheelbarrow, and lift the watering can. It’s also a great way to practice flexibility and balance. So, next time you’re feeling a little stiff and sluggish from a sedentary day… try picking up your gardening trowel for stress relief and a healthy sweat.
Gardening is also health supportive in that it stimulates all 5 senses. It can be a great way to detach from our busy lifestyles & technology, ground us, and connect with Mother Nature. It allows for our mind to be creative- since gardening is a form of art. Gardening helps promote a safe & friendly environment for wildlife to inhabit, and pollinators to work. In addition to this, the garden space brings people together, builds community (2), and allows for a place to connect without barriers such as language or money. Eating from the garden creates a strong connection to what we put in our bodies, because when you’re eating as close to the soil as possible… you’re consuming whole foods!
Whole foods are in their natural state, usually one ingredient, and minimally processed or altered. Eating this way is a key component to our health and wellbeing – since whole foods offer our body live nutrients that help bring us energy, vitality, and play a role in disease prevention.
How can you yourself have more of a green thumb and connection to the garden? Well, the warmer months just around the corner means the local farmers market at the Lonsdale Quay will be starting. Talk to the farmers and learn about their growing methods, and enjoy the fresh produce they have to offer (3). Take a tour through one of the local community gardens (4), or even better, try to plant some of your own produce! If you have little space (like myself), LifeSpace Gardens “Condo Farms” are the ideal way to get growing on your apartment deck! (5) If you want to start small, start with a windowsill herb box, even this can bring vast positive change to your cooking & health ☺
Lauren Paton, Registered Holistic Nutritionist
(1) Bristol University Study: Lowry C.A., Hollis J.H., de Vries A., Pan B., Brunet L.R., Hunt J.R., Paton J.F., van Kampen E., Knight D.M., Evans A.K., Rook G.A., Lightman S.L. (2007-05-11). “Identification of an immune-responsive mesolimbocortical serotonergic system: potential role in regulation of emotional behavior.” Neuroscience 146 (2): 756–772. doi:10.1016/j.neuroscience.2007.01.067. PMID 17367941.