Gardening provides many more benefits than just tasty tomatoes

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I did some research on the benefits of gardening, and it turns out that there are many.

Gardening can improve your mood by increasing levels of serotonin and dopamine, hormones that make us feel good. Gardening can also help lower the risk of dementia. And spending even a short amount of time gardening on a regular basis can help maintain motor skills and improve endurance, strength and sensory awareness. It has also been reported that just 30-40 minutes of gardening each day will lower your blood pressure.

Furthermore, working side by side with others in a community garden has social, emotional and community benefits. Community gardens help seniors feel connected and teach children valuable life lessons about nature. Also, studies of after-school gardening programs suggest that kids who garden are more likely to eat fruits and vegetables.

Horticulture therapy, a professional practice that uses plants and gardening to improve mental and physical health, can provide a heightened mood, improved social skills, better memory and cognition, socialization and stress reduction.

Anna Hackman, editor of Green Talk talks, refers to her garden as “my little Garden of Eden.” In an article at Forward.com, “Gardening Strengthened My Jewish Awareness,” she writes, “God’s handprint on my garden is so beautiful that the garden becomes my refuge from stress. In the garden I connect with God, who gives me my daily pep talk and sends me back to the real world. Each passing year, as I continue to add plants to the garden, the triumphs more than outweigh the failures ….”

She goes on to describe the taste of garden-fresh cherry tomatoes, blueberries, kale, strawberries and green beans, and she vividly describes visits from bumblebees, birds and butterflies.

Hackman continues, “I am deeply honored … and deeply humbled … as I expand the garden, I connect the dots of my Judaic and environmental responsibility.

“Food is a blessing. For every flower or herb I planted, some creature benefited from its seeds or prospered due to the plant’s shelter. Every time I make a meal from my harvested vegetables, my food miles decrease and I reduce my carbon emissions in the world. Gardening organically reduces my family’s exposure to harmful pesticides and provides them with wholesome real food.

“I never felt more connected to Judaism. Healing the Earth never tasted so good.”

PATRICIA RASKIN, owner of Raskin Resources Productions, is a media host, coach and award-winning radio producer and business owner. She has served on the board of directors of Temple Emanu-El, in Providence.