This year marks the 50th anniversary of Earth Day, a day we feel exceptionally passionate about at Califia. And in light of the current challenges we all face with the coronavirus, we couldn’t imagine a more fitting time think about our connection to the environment.
As parks and beaches around the country are closed and we #stayhome, many of us are feeling a heightened need to connect with nature. In a time of uncertainty and empty grocery shelves it’s no wonder there has been a widely-reported surge in gardening.
An uptick in gardening during unstable times is nothing new. War-time “Victory Gardens” began during WWI and were revived during WWII where an astounding 20 million new gardens were planted.
Today’s “Climate Victory Gardens” hope to raise awareness around the positive benefits at-home gardens can have on the climate crisis. The Victory Garden effort has been further buoyed by the COVID-19 outbreak establishing “community-based food security, and to cultivate something beautiful and useful in times of great stress and uncertainty,” says Rose Hayden-Smith, author of “Sowing the Seeds of Victory: American Gardening Programs of World War I.”
Aside from the obvious benefits gardening can have like providing homegrown nourishment to both ourselves and those we love, tending to our backyard plants is being shown to have a host of benefits to our overall well-being:
- Stress Relief: A Dutch study reported those who gardened for 30 minutes had improved mood and measurably lower cortisol levels also known as “the stress hormone.”
- Improve Heart Health: Research suggests regular gardening cuts heart attack risk by up to 30% in those over 60 years of age due to the dynamic movement gardening provides compared to other activities.
- Boost Immunity: A friendly bacteria known as Myobacterium Vaccae that’s found in common gardening soil, has been known to alleviate symptoms of psoriasis, allergies and asthma.
Of course, getting your hands dirty can be good for the planet too. Savvy modern farmers and gardeners now understand that composting and good soil management captures more carbon in the ground. “We want to use the entire farm as a way to teach about climate action … and we see land-based climate action as one of the more tangible, gratifying ways to help people feel like there’s some hope, feel like there’s something they can do,” says Chiara D’Amore, director of the Community Ecology Institute.
At-home gardening can certainly feel like one way to make a positive difference.