NDSU Extension Service - Mercer County

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It's Time to Garden!

gardening, community gardens

Submitted by Dena Kemmet, Extension Agent/Family and Consumer Sciences

Many people save gardening for their retirement years. Actually, gardening can have positive health benefits throughout life. Some researchers have found that when you live near a garden or participate in gardening as a child, you are more likely to show an interest in gardening as you grow older.

However, if childhood gardening wasn’t part of your life, don’t be deterred. Be aware of the health benefits and the satisfaction that comes with gardening. Gardening can increase our physical activity, improve our fruit and vegetable consumption, and promote mental health.

Some researchers have linked a decreased risk for diabetes and osteoporosis to the physical activity accumulated during gardening and other yard work. Physical activities, as well as balanced nutrition, are keys to managing diabetes. As we walk and lift, we put weight on our bones, which strengthens them and helps prevent osteoporosis.

People who grow vegetables are more likely to eat them. According to a Michigan State University survey of 766 adults, participating in a community garden resulted in eating more fruits and vegetables. In fact, they were 3.5 times as likely to eat fruits and vegetables five times per day.

Other studies have shown that gardening promotes bonding with your family and fosters life skills, including responsibility. If you have trouble sleeping or are coping with stressful life situations, gardening may help. Some researchers have found that gardening has a calming effect.

Gardening burns calories. Gardening is considered moderate to high-intensity exercise. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, you can burn up to 330 calories during just one hour of light gardening and yard work — more than lifting weights for the same amount of time. The National Institute of Health goes so far as to recommend 30 to 45 minutes of gardening three to five times a week as part of a good strategy.

People who spend extended lengths of time around plants have better relationships with others. Studies also show that people who spend time around plants are much more likely to help others, and often have more advanced social relationships. People who care for nature are more likely to care for others, reaching out to their peers and forming shared bonds resulting from their common interests.

If you are inspired to garden but do not have the space, consider planting in the community garden. The community garden in located in Beulah behind the USDA building. Each space is 10’ x 10’ and cost $25 for the season. Water and hoses are available at the garden. Each gardener is responsible for providing their own tools. If you’re interested in this option please contact the NDSU Extension service at 873-5195.

For more information about growing plants and using your fresh produce and preserving it, see the NDSU Extension Service “Garden to Table” materials available at http://www.ag.ndsu.edu/ndsuag/food-nutrition/from-garden-to-table.

Source: Julie Garden-Robinson, North Dakota State University Extension Service food and nutrition specialist

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