Gardening provides positive mental health effects for communities

BRYAN, Texas — Gardening could be a new getaway. Dr. Charlie Hall, a professor in the Horticultural Sciences department at Texas A&M says there are multiple health benefits associated with gardening and has seen the positive effects on himself and the community.

Dr. Hall says gardening can provide stress and anxiety relief, decreased depression, and increased creativity.

“We talk about how those that garden and landscape experience less stress,” said Dr. Charlie Hall, Professor at Texas A&M. “During the pandemic, there were 18 and half-million new gardeners/landscapers. That’s pretty substantial market growth.”

Plants and gardening come in many forms. Dr. Hall said healing gardens can truly heal people.

“If there’s healing gardens, then there’s fewer anger outbursts,” said Dr. Hall.

As Dr. Hall studies more research on the health and wellness benefits of gardening, he wants others to know what he’s found.

“And I thought to myself … this sounds like something people need to know because we are all concerned about the quality of our lives and this is something that directly impacts the quality of our life and it’s so simple,” said Dr. Hall.

Some of those positive effects include getting your hands dirty in the soil, relieving stress from the body, and becoming connected to the community.

“Sometimes it’s just good to get the dirt on your hands because there are bacteria in the soil that helps in terms of immunity to certain diseases. Of course, being outside, vitamin D that your skin absorbs.”

Dr. Charlie Hall says the positive effects of gardening has people wanting to know more.

“The fact is people came through a life-changing pandemic and many of the folks that were working in a job, they weren’t necessarily happy in, they said ‘wait a minute’,” said Dr. Hall. “Life is too short.”

Master Gardener Katie Loewe found herself in a similar situation and blended her two passions: gardening and working with sexual assault survivors.

“I was going through a lot of mental distress myself and I was looking for something I could educate myself on and bring my daughter who was two at the time, along with me,” said Katie Loewe, Master Gardener, Brazos County. “It provided a great opportunity for education as well as community.”

Through a mental health class, Loewe was able to work with people who suffered from PTSD, depression, and anxiety.

“To think deeply and to experience where they’re at, at that moment. It grounds them. It helps to completely reprogram their mind and to give them the courage to interact with the environment around them which is really remarkable.”

She says people opened up and became more lively.

“Being able to get them to reconnect with their selves and spaces around them is crucial,” said Loewe. “It helps to reprogram their mind, helps them to gain trust again when their trust has been shaken.”

Dr. Hall says gardening helps during all stages of life from reducing bullying in school environments, to enhancing nutrition at the family dinner table, and to improving work productivity by simply having plants in the office.

Loewe says all plants in the garden can be found at local stores if you would like to start your own garden at home.

If you or your kid are interested in becoming a Brazos County gardener, visit: Brazos County Master Gardeners – Extending Knowledge, Providing Solutions (brazosmg.com).

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