Gardening Cures Depression

by Guest Contributor


In the spring the boys and I started organic gardening at Lincoln Park Farm in the Zoo’s The Edible Garden.  Since then we have spent every Wednesday morning with our friends at the organic garden learning, farming, eating and weeding. Each task brings a new invaluable experience. The latest being the revelation that putting your hands in the dirt while gardening relieves depression!

Kord Staley, one of our farmer friends at the Edible Garden, shared this with me after seeing my big satisfied smile while I sat and picked weeds and it makes complete sense. Here I have been researching natural ways to cure my intermittent depression. And one of the answers was literally at my fingertips!

Gardening connects me to the earth in a way that I love. Since I am a novice gardener and addicted to organizing, each week I come with one goal in mind- to weed. But then I leave with so much more. While I sit and weed it is generally pretty quiet. Sure, the kids may come up and show me the latest vegetable they are learning about or pop by to take my weeds to the compost heap, but mostly I am peaceful and just listening. During this time, I learn remarkable facts about farming and produce. I hear my friend’s genuine stories about family and life. I hear children talking to their caregivers with wonder and excitement about food and plants like they are talking about toys and games. More than improving the space I was weeding, my soul leaves in better shape than when I arrived. Talk about being grounded (pun intended).

One of the reasons I created the group Chicago Green Families was to have more families connect at these free environmentally friendly events in the city. The fact that the boys will have childhood memories of running down the corn fields and picking fresh green beans from the vine all while staying in their neighborhood makes my heart soar. These times in nature with my sons are treasures that I hold dear.

By choosing to live in the city while raising the boys, we knew there were certain things we would gain and certain things we would give up. As city kids, the boys understand which trains and buses get you where you want to go. They know the main streets to all the beach, museums and parks. They have friends that live in mansions and apartments. They are immersed in a world that is culturally, economically and just generally diverse. And we love it. Now with the addition of The Edible Garden in our life, we gain one of the things we thought we lost- the ability to farm like you were in a rural area. That deep, almost spiritual connection to the land that you get when you take care of a piece of the Earth and call it your own.

Thank you Lincoln Park Zoo for allowing us this opportunity to experience something so refreshing right here in our city. It lifts our spirits, fills our minds and nourishes our bodies each visit.

An Original 5 Minutes for Going Green post. You can read more about Jennifer’s journey going green while raising a family in the city at her blog The EcoChic Organizer.

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