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The benefits of gardening I

Updated: Apr 3, 2020


Seeing that we’re all going to house-bound for a while, many of us will be looking through grimy windows into that space called the back yard in the coming weeks.

Yes, gyms, cafes, restaurants are all lockdown now, but that area behind of or in front of our house can now double for all these functions: exercise (one-hour, mind!), al fresco dining or just sitting down with a nice cup of tea and a few biscuits.

Even if you live in an apartment, you may have access to a balcony, or a community garden, which (if you practice correct social distancing protocols) can offer you some growing space and escape from obsession with work-related zoom chats, Netflix box-sets and the perils of home-schooling.

My name is John Foster, and I’m one of the gardeners with Renew East London, a Community Interest Company that works with homeless and vulnerable people, training them to become landscape gardeners. For the last three years, we’ve been working hard to help gardens and lives flourish in East London. We’ve worked on landscaping projects for community gardens, private houses, a farm in Suffolk – we’ve even been known to make the odd piece of furniture out of recycled wood.

We appreciate that things are difficult right now. People are facing new challenges. Life for everyone has been disrupted. Some of us are convalescing; some are trying to care for sick or elderly relatives remotely; some of us have job insecurity; others have children who were supposed to be sitting SATs, GCSEs or A-levels. Most of us will be facing the interesting task of finding things to do to fill our previously busy lives.

But we all need to use this time the best we can. After all, all we really have in this life is time. We’ve got the chance to consider how we live our lives and the impact we can all make. Step back and think about it and how you can change it for the better. Sometimes making a change is as simple as phoning someone you haven’t spoken to for a while or saying hello to a neighbour you’ve not talked to or checking up on an elderly person you know. Sometimes it’s beautifying the environment you live in for yourself and those around you.

That’s why we should use our open spaces the best we can. Over the next few weeks, I’ll be writing a few posts on what we can all do in our outside spaces – or even our window boxes. I’ll cover the benefits of gardening for your physical and mental health, your wealth, your family time, even your wallet and what you put on your dinner plate. I’ll also do some tutorials, the first on a subject that I have passion for – composting.

For the time being, stay well.

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