As temperatures start to warm, many people will start to plan and plant their gardens. But did you know that this favorite summer pastime is also a great form of self-care? To start, gardening offers a sense of responsibility. Gardening requires us to look after other living things and can help foster care for nature and all living things, especially in children.

Benefits of Gardening

Gardening also allows all of us to be nurturing and kind. Plants have no preference for who is taking care of them, and contributing to a transformative activity helps boost self-esteem. This is because we get to see firsthand the transformation that our plants go through from seeds to full-grown plants. Watching this helps instill a sense of nurturing and accomplishment that we made that happen.

Building on this, gardening keeps us connected to living things and the world around us. This can keep us from becoming too insular. A research study from 2008 shows that for people in prison and mental health units, group gardening is beneficial because it focuses on collective skills and aspirations as opposed to individual symptoms and deficits.

Finally, working in gardens releases happy hormones! These happy hormones are known as dopamine and serotonin and they are released during exercise. Gardening can be a physically exerting process, but it can also help us move mentally and physically to create some better energy and state of mind!

Resources in Northern Colorado

Across Northern Colorado, there are many great ways to become involved in gardening and form a connection to your food and your community. The ELC has our very own garden, learn more about volunteering in the ELC garden and how to sign up. Colorado State University Extension also has a great website with resources on when and what to plant, ways to become involved, and more! Be sure to check out the CSU Extension website on gardening. Finally, there are great restaurants that help connect the most vulnerable in our community to healthy food, such as the FOCO Café. FOCO Café allows people to pay what they can or help in the kitchen to pay for their meals, it is an entirely volunteer-based nonprofit. Be sure to check out and visit FOCO Café.