If you’re feeling a bit blue, get into your garden and start working.  Getting involved in a gardening project is good for the soul, research reveals.  A study by a UK university and a gardening charity, Thrive, reveals that not only does gardening have a positive effect on people’s physical and mental health and well-being, it’s also good for people’s social skills.

The UK has more than 900 ongoing therapeutic gardening projects, and the three year study looked at the benefits of programmes like these for vulnerable people.

For many people who are disabled, depressed or who find it hard to cope with everyday life, getting involved in a horticulture project presents an opportunity to focus on what they can achieve instead of what they can’t.

Participants are involved in planting, cultivating, growing and nurturing, even digging and construction. If they want they can also to contribute to production through marketing and selling produce.

The study found that working outdoors in the fresh air, the physical aspect to the work, the demands of nurturing and growing plants all help in improving participants’ health and feeling of well-being.  People were given an opportunity to feel better about themselves and develop their social skills.

It would be great if we could start up similar gardening projects in the Western Cape.  I know there are lots of sustainable gardening projects but these tend to be food security projects aimed at disadvantaged communities. Therapeutic gardening projects are for everyone and provide an opportunity for people of all backgrounds to work together on a common goal.

Read more about the study and about the great work that Thrive is doing.