Benefits of community gardening
Gardening and particularly gardening in a group can bring many wonderful benefits to all, regardless of health, age or circumstance.
Better physical health
Can be achieved through:
- The exercise that gardening brings.
Gardening tasks can be chosen and tailored according to physical ability and available energy, from gentle seed sowing to vigorous digging. We can work for 5 minutes or 5 hours, and and our health can gently improve according to our personal circumstances and needs. Tasks can be tailored to help us to use or strengthen muscles which can improve mobility and flexibility where we need it.
- Fresh healthy fruit and vegetables.
To offer access to free fresh healthy food is one of our main aims. Poor diets due to low income or other circumstances can be drastically improved with the addition of healthy organic salads, fruit and vegetables, the vitamin content of food deteriorates with age, so to be able to eat food fresh the day it is picked keeps it at its optimum nutrition and flavour, something money can’t always buy!
Better mental health
- Gardening can give tangible results from relatively small amounts of effort. To see seeds grow that were planted a week or so before, to dig potatoes out of the ground, to stand back and look at an area that has just been weeded or cleared, to literally eat the fruit of one’s labour all can engender feelings of pride, purpose and achievement
- Gardening in a group can also aid people to feel benefit from the groups achievement, to help avoid overwhelm as so much can be achieved together, to share tasks according to ability, to be able to pool resources and benefit from everyone’s skills, this can also help with positive feelings of self esteem and regained self respect.
- Gardening in a group offers the opportunity to connect with others in a gentle non invasive way, gardening side by side at one’s own pace, enjoying tea breaks together and the continuity of belonging to a regular non judgemental group can help reducing feelings of isolation or exclusion.
- Gardening together, learning by doing, learning from each other, or being taught more formally can help people to acquire new skills or remember old ones, to develop confidence in themselves and improve the chances of finding employment.
- In a community garden group, everyone has a chance to use and develop their skills, there are always so many opportunities, not just gardening but also making tea or cakes, organising the admin sides of things, making jams and chutneys, helping at fetes or talks, developing websites, learning to design, supporting each other and the group in so many ways. These skills can all be developed as a volunteer, then translated into other work applications or placements.
- Formal volunteer training for eg Health and Safety, First Aid, Kitchen Hygiene, or CPD gardening courses etc can also be received in some community garden groups, which all help to improve chances of finding employment.
Improved wellbeing from being close to nature
- Reconnecting with nature in our modern society, brings huge benefits, often termed the ‘biophylia effect’
- Stress levels can be reduced from an opportunity to be with plants and insects in a beautiful outdoor environment.
- Sensory benefits, sounds, smells, touch, taste of a garden all have a profound impact on our sense of wellbeing.
- Often people feel a profound sense of peace, and spiritual wellbeing within a garden or natural environment.
Therapy and rehabilitation
Thrive, the gardening charity for people with disabilities , states that:
‘Social and therapeutic horticulture (STH)’ can benefit people in a number of ways:
- It can be part of a person’s rehabilitation process, to help them recover and ‘find their feet again’ after an illness or a difficult time in their lives
- It can help people recover from a wide range of conditions
- It can help people to learn new skills
- Can help slow down the deterioration seen when someone has a degenerative illness.
Social and therapeutic horticultural also benefits people with many different disabilities, including those recovering from stroke and heart disease, blind and partially sighted people, those in the early stages of dementia, and people with physical and learning disabilities.’