March 21, 2023

Gardening has long been associated with physical, mental and even spiritual benefits, but what is the extent of these benefits? And how can students harness these benefits for themselves?

Ashley Pagel, senior environmental science and mathematics major, spends about three hours a week gardening.

“Gardening provides a way to connect with God’s creation and allows you to see some of the amazing processes he created,” Pagel said.

She added that there is a definite spiritual benefit to gardening, along with physical and mental benefits.

“Gardening definitely has spiritual benefits,” Pagel said. “It helps you connect with God’s creation, and just (helps with) getting a greater appreciation for creation.”

Kylie Williams, junior environmental science major, agreed that gardening has many physical and mental benefits.

“It leaves you very sore the next day, but you’ll notice some more muscle definition because you’re working with shovels,” Williams said. “Mentally, it helps me so much after I’m in a very stressful class. I’m like, ‘Yay! My next class is urban agriculture. I get to go out and be in God’s creation right now and just relax, like a breath of fresh air.’ Even though it’s hot, you don’t really notice because all you think about is that you’re sowing these seeds so then you can eat it later, and that’s really cool to me.”

Dr. Jacob Lanphere, an environmental science professor more often known as Farmer Lanphere, is a staunch advocate for the multitude of benefits of gardening and being in nature.

Lanphere tells the story of the universal nature of gardens, which crosses the city, state, and even country lines. He explains when he was in the on-campus garden, tending to the plants, and found a student simply relaxing in the garden, enjoying the fresh air and the orange trees. He asks them why they are there, and “they tell me that they’re from another country, but they come to the garden because it reminds them of their country. It reminds them of being at home with their family, and that’s why gardens are so important. These green spaces are so important because they allow us to connect and have these memories of the past.”

He also explains that the spiritual benefits of gardening extend back to the book of Genesis.

“When you look at the book of Genesis chapters 1-3, we see that God created the world in six days,”Lanphere said. “He puts man and woman in a garden. Doesn’t put them on a coastline, in a forest or in the middle of the ocean on an island. He puts them in a garden, and there’s many reasons why.”

According to a research study conducted by Walid Briki and Lina Majed, some of the benefits of gardening include the health benefits of simply being surrounded by the color green, as it has been proven to reduce your stress level.

“Having dirt under your fingernails increases the serotonin in your body, which helps you feel really good (and) helps you to be happy,” Lanphere said.

Lanphere said that even during the pandemic, he found solace in the garden, where he could escape the events and conflicts of the world, as there were “no masks on the bugs, and no vaccines in the plants.”

For students looking for some stress relief, go check out Lancer Farm and Gardens, located next to the Hawthorne house in North Colony. Students can go get their hands dirty, eat a healthy snack and spend some healing time in God’s creation.

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