Making Your Garden Matter

This is a hard time of year for too many people.   Frequently, our neighbors who have been on the margins, whether financially, medically or psychologically experience a turn for the worse around the holidays.  While these days should be ones of health, hope and happiness, too often it means the opposite for some.  While we all look for ways to help throughout the year, the holiday season makes us feel we want to do more somehow.  With all the demands on our time and our wallets, we can sometimes feel stressed or resentful when someone asks us for more.  So here are a few things we can all do while enjoying a favorite hobby, gardening.

1.  Bring your brightest, freshest flowers to the local hospital.  Did you know that research has shown that having fresh flowers in a hospital room can help patients need less pain medication, have lower blood pressure and make them feel less fatigued?  There are too many patients that are without this simple pleasure.  The nurses on any floor can help you find someone in need of a little green cheer.  Not only will the fresh flowers help, it will also help to know someone cares.  Make those blooms count!  We promise that the person you give them to will appreciate them and think them more beautiful than you can imagine.

2. Give your extra produce to a local food bank.  This can be done on a personal level (we all have extra potatoes, zucchini, squash, onions or herbs that we don’t need) or you can organize an indoor Plant  A Row for the Hungry drive to supply food banks with fresh produce over the lean winter months.  You can find info on the Plant A Row program at The Garden Writers Association.   It’s very difficult for food banks to afford fresh produce in winter months, leaving many people to go without.  With just a little extra effort, our neighbors could be enjoying healthy fruits and vegetables year round.

3.   Visit a  local assisted living center or nursing home with potted plant cuttings from your houseplants.  Not only will these plants have the same pain ameliorating and emotion boosting effects as flowers in a hospital room would have, but research has shown the longer a person has the opportunity to care for a living thing, be it plant or pet, the better they fight off depression and anxiety.  Residents with potted plants or pets not only live longer, but have a better quality of life and are more active than residents who do not have this.  Make sure to make the pot small, so that if space is limited the resident can keep it without making their room uncomfortable.  You can always come back for a nice visit to check on how the resident and your plant are doing and bring a bigger pot!  It will give you something in common to talk about and you will make someone’s day so much brighter!

4.   Collect seeds from your plants and donate them and your time to a community garden.  Many urban and suburban communities are recognizing and honoring the value of green spaces.  Chances are, there is an underfunded, undermanned community garden near you.  Not only do these gardens usually need supplies, they also need people that know how to garden and most especially, know how to teach others to garden.  You don’t have to be a master horiculturalist.  If all you know is how to grow potatoes or roses or even just how to prepare soil, your knowledge is important.  Go spend half an hour a week weeding or teaching.  You will be pleasantly surprised by how enthusiastic the participants are and your gift of both seeds and knowledge could hardly go to a more worthy endeavor.

5.  Go and care for a sick neighbors plants.  Winter or spring, plants need care.  Some of our neighbors just can’t get around their home or garden easily this year and might need a little help trimming, watering or just shoveling snow to get to their greenhouse.  There is nothing so crushing to an avid gardener than to see their work wither away or spill over with choking weeds.  Not only will your neighbor be much more cheerful with a tidy, healthy space, your whole neighborhood will appreciate it (and hopefully pitch in!).

These are just a few ideas that will cost you little to nothing in both money and time but will result in an astonishing amount of happiness for a few people that really need it right now.  Can you think of some other ideas from the garden that could help?  Do you have a charity that could use a gardener’s assistance?  Send us a note so we can share!


1 Comment

  1. November 27, 2009 at 8:11 am

    […] Continued here:  Making Your Garden Matter […]

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