Interview with Charlie Hall | Gardening through the Pandemic

This summer, we are thrilled to see that gardening has been an extraordinarily popular activity for households far and wide. Gardening is the perfect way to stay home, have fun, keep busy, and stay out of the grocery stores.

What if we told you that there are also immense health benefits to gardening? Charlie Hall, PhD., recipient of the 2019 American Horticultural Society’s Teaching Award and Gardenuity Advisor,talks about the incredible benefits that gardening has for your health and wellbeing. 

Why is Gardening Gaining Popularity?

During the pandemic, the gardening industry has experienced incredible growth. People are at home, and they are nesting. Interestingly, the spike in gardening’s popularity has developed a pattern that goes hand in hand with lulls in the economy.

“In previous economic downturns, with the exception of the Great Depression, we had seen basically a resurgence in people buying plants and gardening and landscaping,” says Hall. “One of the reasons is that people stay at home more. When they’re at home, they have the inclination to get outside, and to spruce up the interior scapes of their home.”

How Good is Gardening?

In addition to creating a cozy, healthy and happy home, gardening has a surprising number of positive effects on the general well being of human beings. As Hall says, “If people only KNEW of the benefits, surely they would participate more often.”

Hall has been in the process of revamping his original research from 2011, which explores the health benefits of gardening and landscaping. He has now been able to create three additional journals, all which discuss how gardening contributes to emotional health, physiological health, and the benefits to society as a whole. 

How Does Gardening Affect Health and Wellbeing?

Gardening has the power to lift people up. Getting outside and getting your hands dirty can be one of the best remedies to issues with mental health, in addition to boosting your body’s immunity. Hall informs, “There’s a symbiotic relationship that we have with the dirt. It helps build our immune systems”. 

In addition, Hall speaks about the vast benefits of gardening on human health. “(People will experience) reduced depression and mitigation of PTSD, reduced effects of Dementia and Alzheimers, improved self esteem, enhanced memory capacity. People sleep better if they spend time outdoors. We’ve seen decreased diabetes, enhanced immunity, improved digestion. Decrease in allergies, even though you’re outside.”

The beauty of this is that choosing to garden is also choosing to positively impact your own health, as well as your family’s. When you’re outside, digging in, you are actively making the choice to make great changes to your state of being. While you’re at it, gardening is such a peaceful activity, take the chance to clear your mind and find a meditation within the work. 

Why Choose Gardening?

We know gardening is healthy. We know gardening makes people happy. But what keeps people coming back to gardening, and how do we help people adopt gardening into their daily lives? 

The reality is that gardening also gives back to us! People love to be told that they are doing a good job, and what better an affirmation than fresh fruits and veggies served right up in your backyard? There is such value in this gift of fresh produce, and Hall says, “There is return from gardening, and that return comes in the form of fresh fruits and vegetables. It’s something people can do and see the results in 20-60 days. Put in the effort now, you reap the rewards. You’ve got a delayed, but obvious gratification in the process. There’s value for the time people spend gardening.”

The inherent success involved with gardening is incredibly beneficial to the human psyche. Our goal is to create a space where people can learn about gardening in a way that will help you achieve success every time you garden. “When people achieve success,” Hall states, “that’s when gardening becomes addictive”. 

How is Gardening Helping Your Family?

With the kids being at home, getting them into the garden is a great way to keep them busy and create healthy, productive habits. You can rest easy knowing that they are supposed to be getting dirty, and they’ll be helping you out while they’re at it!

Gardening is also a fantastic way to bond with your family; being outside reduces people’s stress levels, which also allows for more fluid interactions between individuals. Hall acknowledges that “there’s a great deal of family cohesiveness that’s generated outside”. 

How is Gardening Good for the Community?

You cannot deny that gardens make communities much more beautiful, visually. That being said, let’s talk about the ways in which gardens improve communities at their core. 

Community gardens create the opportunity for all individuals to come together to work on a task that will positively impact the community as a whole. “Studies have found that areas with community gardens experience less vandalism, graffiti and crime” states Hall. “To me, community efforts like this and truly ensure that people are coming together for the common good”. 

Every community needs a safe and reasonable way to come together right now! Community gardens are a great opportunity for people to socially distance and occupy the same space as their neighbors (safely, with a mask!). Community gardens are also an incredible way to give back to the community in that they produce food that can be consumed by those in need.

How can Gardenuity Foster this Community?

At Gardenuity, our goal is to bring people together through gardening, and create a safe, helpful, and accessible virtual community! We asked Charlie how we can continue to plant the seeds of growth into people’s hearts.

Hall responded, “When I think of Gardenuity, I think of an opportunity to really influence the mindset of people around gardening. A lot of people just think of it as handwork, but it’s not just hardworking; it’s exercise, it’s family bonding time, it’s exercising social cohesiveness. Let alone beauty.” 

To learn more about community gardening during the pandemic check out our post on community gardening reimagined during COVID.