Six Reasons Why Black People Should Garden
I have recently returned to Philadelphia and am quite frankly dismayed by the levels of neighborhood violence I’m seeing on the news everyday. I am also surprised by the empty lots that are scattered throughout the city. They might provide one of the many solutions needed as an antidote to the brutality; creating urban gardens. The benefits of gardening are many, particularly for a people who have nurtured and tended the earth longer than any. There is a camaraderie that comes from working the soil together. There is a shared goal and joy when the first fruits of shared labor appears. Our ancient hands have massaged the soils of many lands from Kemet (ancient Egypt) to the Mississippi Delta. The soil has sustained us, chained us, and will prayerfully, ultimately, reclaimed us.
And with mental health issues and high blood pressure riding roughshod through our community, now is the time to seek out the healing that connecting with the soil can offer. Here are our six top reasons.
- Gardening can relieve stress. Gardening is positively correlated with a reduction in depression and anxiety symptoms, according to a 2017 meta-analysis in Preventive Medicine Reportsthat looked at 22 different case studies.
In fact, some hospitals even use planting and flower arranging as a type of rehabilitation for people recovering injuries, strokes, surgeries, and other conditions. NYU Langone’s horticultural therapy program helps patients rebuild both their physical and mental health.
Not only does it give people control over a situation when they might feel helpless, but it also teaches them a new skill that can restore confidence. They don’t really see a value in themselves because how they define themselves has changed, but being be able to take care of something is a good place to start.
2. You can optimize your health. Make no mistake, gardening is exercise. Anyone who has tended a garden, knows this.
The many health benefits of gardening and its associated movement include weight loss, reduced stress, lower blood pressure, and an elevated mood. Gardens are well known to produce feelings of tranquility, serenity, and happiness.
Gardening also ensures access to nature and the sun, a rich source of immunity-building vitamins, most notably, Vitamin D.
3. You can grow your own healthy food. Growing your own vegetables is an empowering step toward producing your own food supply.
During unpredictable times, like the present, access to a reliable and sustainable food source is critical. Gardening empowers you to feed your own family. Further, given the contemporary, commercial overuse of dangerous pesticides on the foods we purchase, you can largely control what substances engage your fruits, vegetables, and the soil they spring from.
4. You can increase your property value. A beautiful, well-tended garden can increase the overall value and appeal of your home. An increased property value not only enables faster home sales, but also has significant implications for other home value assessments.
5. You can support your environment. Plants clean and detoxify the air, filling it with oxygen while absorbing carbon dioxide and other air pollutants. They reduce erosion and hold the soil in place while further preventing harmful pollutants from invading nearby creeks, rivers, and streams.
6. You can adorn it with Garden Art for the Soul. Do you really need a reason to surround yourself with powerful images of African American culture? We don’t think so. Think how your beautiful new garden will blossom into the focal point of your block while celebrating earth’s offerings and the culture who tended it longest.