Written by guest blogger Michael Mikhailovsky
Nature exists around the human made world, and it gives us a lot. It sustains and nourishes us. It gives us clean air to breathe, food and shelter. It gives us strength to overcome challenges. Our own backyards can be an oasis of nature to carry us through difficult times. Even a small area inside the home, or on a balcony, or on a windowsill—with the basics of soil, water, seed and sunlight can help us grow as we care for nature. Gardening offers incredible benefits for mental and physical health. During these stressful and uncertain times, we can find a way to nurture ourselves while we nurture our garden, right in our own backyards.
Bringing more nature to our homes by gardening allows us to gain the benefits that nature has to offer. Gardening can be a relaxing, rejuvenating and restoring activity during COVID-19, even while practicing physical distancing. Research has proven the health benefits of gardening. Gardening can be an enjoyable hobby instead of a chore. It helps people connect with the natural world. People are disconnected from nature in cities. Nature helps to restore focus and helps people to rejuvenate their emotions. The focus can be very helpful during these uncertain and stressful times.
Gardening can be a special time. Focus on gardening. Leave the cell phone indoors. Be mindful, aware of sensory experiences such as sight, colour, smell and the sounds around you: birds, insects, the calming blow of the wind. Birds, butterflies and hummingbirds can be attracted to your garden by what you choose to plant. Repeat a prayer, do some yoga or breathing exercises to lower stress. Be aware of the colour and texture of the plants. The variety and beauty can heal and restore. Caring for your garden and watching it grow can help you grow and feel better. The calming scent of lavender, the beautiful aroma of lilacs. Calendula flower is used to make herbal oils and creams that are anti-inflammatory and help with acne and eczema. While cutting the Tulsi (Indian basil) leaves when harvesting at Shoresh’s Kavanah Garden last summer, I breathed better while inhaling the aromatic scent of the leaves of the plant.
The Talmud tells a beautiful story of an old man who was planting fruit trees. When asked why he would be planting if the trees would outlive him, he answered that he was planting for future generations. By gardening we too are giving to the natural world that will grow and bloom for the future, and we are becoming Shomrei Adamah, guardians of the earth.
Food insecurity has sadly become a larger issue for many during these uncertain times. Planting your own garden can grow nourishment for yourself and your family, and by donating what you grow you can help those in need. Shoresh’s Dayenu Garden initiative encourages and inspires anyone with space indoors or outdoors to plant their own garden – to grow their own food, and if possible grow food to help others – while filled with gratitude for everything we have, and awe and wonder for the natural world around us. By gardening we can care for and nurture our world and ourselves right in our own backyard.
Check out Shoresh’s Dayenu Garden blog post for resources for starting and tending to your own garden!