Green-fingered newbies reap rewards
One positive effect of the lockdown has been a massive increase in the number of people taking up vegetable gardening, in a green revolution that is changing the way people think about food and sustainability.
As with the explosion in home-baking, the start of the covid-19 crisis saw people across the UK investing in seeds, which have now sprouted. The resulting seedlings are being shared among local communities and through social media in a modern take on the “good life”.
According to the Royal Horticultural Society, hundreds of thousands more newbie growers are looking for advice on its website compared to last year, with views of its how to compost pages up by 500%.
North London TV producer Carla Francome started cultivating a patch of land previously covered by paving slabs. She has been sharing tips and seedlings on Facebook, including with an elderly, self-isolating neighbour. She said: “I do wonder if I’ve suddenly become 75. But I’ve found fiddling around outside, with the birds singing, getting fresh air and fingers covered in dirt, is a delightful way to spend time.”
In addition to these social benefits, gardening has a proven feel-good factor that really does improve mental health. A 2018 study found that 10 weeks of gardening produced similar benefits to 10 weeks of cognitive behavioural therapy.
Says Dr Alan Kellas, green care expert at the Royal College of Psychiatrists. “There is considerable evidence that 120 minutes’ exposure to nature a week is a key factor in maintaining positive mental health.
“If you plant a seed, you think in terms of weeks and months, not the 24-hour news cycle. It’s a retreat and it is one of the best ways we have found to cope.”
Read more about this story on the Guardian website.