Gardening’s Benefits Proven — Again
Stress relief. Self reliance. Beauty. These are all reasons we garden — and a recent study backs it up. A survey conducted by researchers at the University of California-Davis, UC Agriculture and Natural Resources (UCANR) and international partners found that people reported both a sense of control from gardening and more joy in their gardening spaces.
“Connection to nature, relaxation and stress relief were by far the biggest reasons gardeners cited,” says Alessandro Ossola, an assistant professor of plant sciences.
The researchers shared links to complete an online survey to gardening groups, in newsletters and on social media between June and August 2020, with the goal of gauging the significance of gardening as a way to cope with risk, how the pandemic changed gardening and what barriers existed.
More than 3,700 surveys were returned by gardeners from Australia, Germany and the U.S. And — no surprise — more than half of respondents said they felt isolated, anxious and depressed during the early days of the pandemic, and 81% had concerns about food access. At that time, many people also had more time to garden, and they considered it a safe haven and a way to connect socially with others.
Personally, I always seem to grow more tomatoes and other veggies than my family could possibly eat, so I found special meaning in sharing my harvest with friends and neighbors, especially those who were at high health risk and were staying home to avoid crowds and possible infection.
And garden centers went out of their way to be there for gardeners both old and new. I loved reading reports about garden centers setting up special contactless checkouts to ease customers’ anxiety, or the Zooms or Facebook Lives that some of you continue to do today, to show viewers around the greenhouse and garden center.
The study’s authors noted the important role that garden centers played in the early part of the pandemic. Some of the responses they received included:
“Gardeners appreciated the ways in which garden retailers adapted early in the pandemic, e.g., offering online ordering and curbside pickup,” according to the authors.
“One person wrote, ‘The best help has been the local garden store … They offer Zoom info sessions about gardening and have also done a lot to make it easy to get plants in a low-risk way (order before and pickup outside).”
Respondents also showed a lot of appreciation for knowledgeable, kind staff at local nurseries. People really valued personable and professional face-to-face support for home gardening, the authors said.