Global gardening boom benefits public health

As lockdowns came into effect in spring 2020 to curb the spread of the coronavirus, reports have emerged of a global gardening boom, with plants, flowers, vegetables and herbs growing in backyards and on balconies all over the world. .

The data backs up the story: An analysis of Google trends and infection statistics found that during the early months of the COVID-19 pandemic, interest in gardening across countries, Italy to India, tended to peak when infections peaked.

Why were so many drawn to earth in times of crisis? And what kind of effect did gardening have on them?

In a new study conducted with a team of public health and environmental scholars, we highlight how gardening became a coping mechanism during the early days of the pandemic.

Even as COVID-19 restrictions have eased, we’re seeing real lessons about how gardening can continue to play a role in people’s lives.


Dirt, sweat, silence

To conduct our study, we used an online questionnaire to interview over 3,700 respondents who primarily lived in the United States, Germany, and Australia. The group included experienced gardeners and those new to hunting.

More than half of those surveyed said they felt isolated, anxious and depressed during the early days of the pandemic. However, over 75% also found immense value in gardening during this same period. Whether in the city or the countryside, gardening was almost universally described as a way to relax, socialize, connect with nature, or stay active.

More than half of respondents reported a significant increase in the time they could spend gardening. Other respondents found some value in growing their own food, but few felt financially obligated to do so.

Instead, most respondents saw gardening as a way to connect with their community and get exercise.

People with more personal difficulties due to COVID-19, such as inability to work or difficulties with childcare, were more likely to spend more time gardening in their free time than in the past.

Gardening as shelter

In our analysis of the written responses to the survey, most gardeners seemed to experience a greater sense of joy and calm or to feel more in tune with the natural world. It seemed to have positive therapeutic and psychological benefits, regardless of age or location.

For many people, gardening has become a kind of safe space, a refuge from everyday worries. A German gardener began to see his garden as a sanctuary where even “the birds felt stronger”.

“Gardening has been my lifeline,” said one US respondent. “I’m so grateful to be able to surround myself with beauty as a buffer against the bad news that COVID brings every day.”

Another German gardener wrote that his garden became his “safe little world in very uncertain and somewhat dangerous times. … We have come to appreciate even more the hitherto high value of ‘own land, own shelter’”.

a green recipe

As life returns to normal, work increases and obligations increase, I wonder how many pandemic gardens are already neglected.

Will a hobby born of unique circumstances take a back seat?

I hope not. Gardening should not be something that can only be picked up in times of crisis. On the contrary, the pandemic has shown how gardens fulfill a public health need: that they are not just places of beauty or sources of food, but also conduits for healing.

In fact, several countries like New Zealand, Canada and some in Europe now allow the issuance of “green prescriptions” as an alternative to medication. Is his directive of the medicos to pass una cierta cantidad de tiempo al aire libre cada día o mes, un reconocimiento de los beneficios reales para la salud, desde la reducción del estrés hasta un better sueño y una better memoria, que puede ofrecer aventurarse en nature.

I am also thinking of people who never had the opportunity to work in the garden during the pandemic. Not everyone has a garden or can afford gardening tools. Improving access to home gardens, urban green spaces and community gardens could be an important way to improve well-being and health.

Making seeding, planting, pruning, and harvesting part of your daily routine also seems to open up more opportunities.

“I’ve never had time to commit to a garden before,” one novice gardener told us, “but [he] found so much satisfaction and happiness in seeing things grow. It was a catalyst to bring about other positive changes in my life.

This article was written by Alessandro Ossola, assistant professor at the University of California, Davis. It is republished from The Conversation under a Creative Commons license. Articles in English

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