Are you stuck at home, sick of binge watching the latest sitcom? Or maybe you’re struggling to keep your now-homeschooled kids occupied and off their screens? Maybe you’re dealing with increased anxiety and concerns about making ends meet?
Wherever you find yourself today, now is the time to turn to gardening. Use this extra time at home to plan and start a garden that’s good for you and your family, your community, and the planet.
Gardening for Your Physical and Mental Health
Nobody likes being cooped up indoors all the time, and it’s not great for your health. But, social distancing and sheltering in place are absolutely imperative for slowing the pandemic, so we have to get creative about being outdoors. You can garden if you have a balcony, yard, or even just a sunny windowsill. (If not, research shows that even looking at photos of nature can be good for your health.)
In a time when your worries are likely elevated, gardening can support stress release. It’s fun for kids too and has a wide range of hands-on learning benefits from tuning motor skills to engaging in the creative process.
Gardening helps you stay physically fit, aiding in flexibility, strength, and cardiovascular health. And, if you’re looking for exercise to supplement all the yoga and workout videos you’re doing on YouTube, look no farther than a garden to feel productive and inspired.
Gardening to Support Yourself and Your Community
If you haven’t experienced it in person, you’ve surely seen it on the news: panic buying and empty shelves at the grocery store. While we’re being told right now that there’s no food shortage at this time, we may see changes in food imports, labor supply, and possibly even inflation or the increase of food prices in the near future.
During the World Wars, when farmers became soldiers and when food was needed at the front lines, gardens were a way for the country to feed itself and encourage home food security. Thanks to the Victory Gardening movement, people were growing around 40 percent of the country’s fresh fruits and vegetables. Many are turning to gardens again in this time of uncertainty, whether it’s food shortages or health concerns around visiting the grocery store.
In the face of social distancing and record-breaking unemployment rates, community is more important than ever. Before this novel coronavirus, 1 in 8 Americans faced food insecurity—that’s 41 million people—so it’s safe to assume that some members of your community don’t have adequate access to food. Gardening gives us a chance to provide for ourselves and our neighbors. The fresh produce you grow can help supplement a sparse dinner or help out those who lost their income during the pandemic.
If seed and garden supplies are looking as meager as your grocery store shelves, consider using Climate Victory Gardening methods that close the loop in your garden and build soils to grow healthy foods using what you have on hand. This is also an opportunity to support small and local businesses.[JW1]
The Link Between Gardening, Pandemics, and the Climate Crisis
Our Climate Victory Gardening campaign is all about finding climate solutions that are good for people and the planet. The COVID-19 pandemic has come on with incredible speed and has overshadowed the climate crisis for many as the most pressing existential threat, but gardening is a solution to tackle both issues. And we can’t lose sight of the climate solutions that are critical for our long-term survival.
Coronavirus and the climate crisis are more closely tied than you might think. Unchecked destruction of natural environments contributes to both, which we can see in the food system. Trees are cut down for pastures; synthetic chemical pesticides and fertilizers pollute local ecosystems; and huge factory farms poison the air, land, and water of rural communities. The destruction of habitat and changing climate increase human and animal migration, often blurring the lines that allow safe coexistence—increasing zoonotic diseases that transfer from animals to humans, like Ebola, SARS, Lyme Disease, and possibly even this novel coronavirus.
Our food system emits over one third of greenhouse gas emissions, contributing to the very pandemic that has us worried about our health and food supply. It doesn’t have to be like that. We can garden and grow food in a way that supports our wellbeing during coronavirus and offsets the emissions that are warming our planet.
For the nearly 2,500 gardeners already committed to this outcome, they can rest easy knowing where their next meal is coming from and knowing that their gardens have the potential to offset the equivalent of taking over 70,000 cars off the road for a year. Join this movement of Climate Victory Gardeners to produce healthy foods, feed yourself and your community, and fight climate change and future pandemics.