According to research, gardening and growing your own food is good for your mental health and physical health. Especially during a global pandemic, all of us can benefit by spending time outside, especially in a vegetable garden. Gardening is good for the mind, body, and spirit!
On March 13, President Trump declared a national emergency because of the coronavirus. We all found ourselves under a "safer at home" order as our country went on lock down due to COVID-19. Panic swept the nation resulting in grocery store shelves being empty and products online being sold out and backordered for months.
sTons of people lost their jobs and many businesses closed down. Cases of clinical depression and anxiety related to isolation and financial struggles skyrocketed. At the same time, the sale of plants and seeds skyrocketed with sales jumping over 400% for some seed companies. Many seed varieties were sold out and would not be replenished until the next growing season. Millions of people found solutions to food security and happiness through starting backyard gardens.
Personally, as the filmmakers of a gardening documentary, we watched as views of BACK TO EDEN climbed over 1 million views in the first month after quarantine began in the United States. A new surge of beginner gardeners swarmed our website and questions about gardening filled our email's inbox. We found ourselves answering questions from all over the world from Africa to Europe to China. It was clear that people were turning to gardening to keep themselves busy but not surprising many people were desperately seeking food security. This isn't the first time gardening was popular during a crisis in history either! The victory garden movement began during WWI which called on people to grow food in whatever space they could which helped prevent food shortages.
My parents, who are featured in the movie BACK TO EDEN, are still growing food 10 years after the film was released! Every year they grow a Back to Eden Garden that produces a higher yield than the previous year. They grow enough food in rural Pennsylvania to sustain them throughout the year! Mark McOmber started a YouTube channel showing the results of a 10 year Back to Eden garden.
The benefits of gardening are so vast, but let us begin with physical health. Growing your own food gives you access to nutrient-rich food which improves your health. Studies show that most produce loses 30% of nutrients only 3 days after harvest! That means that the vegetable produce you purchase from the grocery store has less nutrients than homegrown vegetables and fruits. You will also reap the physical health benefit of being active. Exercise in the garden gives all of your muscles a fantastic workout!
The mental health benefits of gardening are also being researched worldwide. A report in the Mental Health Journal cited gardening as being able to reduce stress and improve mood with a reduction in symptoms of depression and anxiety. Gardening is related to better brain function and to improved concentration and memory. Some studies have found that it can even reduce the risk of Alzheimer's and dementia. One long-term study from Australia followed nearly 3,000 older adults for over 15 years, tracking incidence of all types of dementia and assessing a variety of lifestyle factors. The researchers concluded that daily gardening was the single biggest risk reduction of dementia, reducing incidence by over a third!
Back to Eden Gardening also taps into something that most gardening methods don't tend to focus on, which is our spiritual health. BACK TO EDEN film shares Paul Gautschi's inspiring journey listening to God in his gardens and connecting to God by observing nature. A Back to Eden Film review by Movie Guide states "Paul’s appreciation for God is infectious. He gives God the credit for his success."
Many studies show that wellness and health are improved when the human mind, body, and spirit are actively working together in our daily lives. Just like our bodies and minds, our spirits need to feed, so to speak, in order to feel our best.