The expansion of the Virginia Cooperative will help make the garden more accessible

While Virginia gardeners are cultivating indoor gardens, protecting community gardens, and caring for houseplants, Virginia Cooperative Expansion works to make all Virginia enjoy the benefits of gardening. Photo by Michael T. Kirnan for Virginia Tech.

From the eastern border of Virginia to the far-flung provinces of southwest Virginia, Virginia Cooperative Expansion works to ensure that all Virginia enjoys gardening.

Debbie Freeman is well aware of the impact that gardening has on people.

As a long-time care director at a nursing home, Freman has seen every time a plant comes to light on residents and sees a plant-to-human relationship that covers ages and abilities.

Putting your hands in the ground has meaning and healing power. Gardening is more than just playing in the trash, it’s more than just a hobby, ”said Freeman, a volunteer gardener and registered horticultural therapist.

This summer, as Virginia gardeners are growing indoor gardens, caring for community gardens and caring for houseplants, the Virginia Cooperative Expansion will work to ensure that all Virginia enjoys gardening benefits.

Gillin Kalahan, an extension agent at Hampton City, helped city residents find an urban garden bed and developed the Hampton City Garden Program, which teaches basic gardening skills. Participants will learn how to turn their crops into nutritious foods by collaborating with the local food and nutrition program.

Kalahan and the local Extension Master Gardener Volunteers use community centers and local libraries to bring programs to areas identified by the local government as needed.

“Growing up, things like this were not for me,” Kalahan said. It teaches you gardening skills, gives you confidence and teaches responsibility, which is especially important for children. We were far from gardening because people always thought they were killing plants. It gives you confidence when you get the first harvest. ”

“Everyone should have a garden,” she said. “It doesn’t have to look like a traditional garden.”

For a quarter of Americans who grow vegetables, berries, or fruit trees at home, gardening is a focal point, but gardening has other benefits as well. According to the National Initiative TV, consumer plants have a positive effect on physical, social and mental health, and gardening can help people with PTSD, addiction and dementia. Community gardens, parks and arbor provide an important community green space by giving neighbors a sense of place and community.

Lee Livington, an extension agent in Lee Lee County, Southwest Virginia, agrees that gardening is important for the safety of many people.

“Gardening gives people purpose,” she says. “We have people here who are gardening during the year we are in control. It gives people confidence. For people with disabilities, there is more to gardening than anything else.

Bington teaches flexible and low-cost, high-end gardening using plastic swimming pools, which can be lifted on pallets for those who cannot bend.

“Instead of building a baby pool for $ 5 and building an expensive wooden bed above the floor, you can put it in containers,” said Bington. We also teach other alternative gardening techniques, such as potato gardening and gardening. Gardening can be affordable. ”

Bington and her Extension Master Gardeners Group also run the Lee County Garden Garden Voucher program, which provides vouchers for low-income residents to purchase gardening and annual gardening lessons. The Lee County Extension Office provides a seed library where residents can borrow garden vegetables.

“If you grow your own vegetables, you can feed yourself, you don’t trust anyone else,” said Bington. “If you have a low income and you can give something, if you have more tomatoes that you can give to a neighbor, that makes sense.”

He said gardening is a way to alleviate food insecurity and help people connect with nature.

“Food insecurity is a continuing war. When the plague broke out, many people began to think of gardening as something you could do. People have started more discussions of the extension with asking, ‘Well how do you do that? How can I increase this? ” He said.

Gardening is a way for people to have a normal life and to communicate outside the home. Just for kids in the city, it’s just a matter of stopping for a minute, getting your hands dirty, learning responsibility and self-confidence and making your own food. That’s something they take with you. ”

Freeman remembers an important example of how life can be affected by gardening. At a recent generational gardening event, a 105-year-old community member had the opportunity to make flower pots filled with flower seeds. She did not put her hands on the ground for a long time, but she made clay ovens with children who were happy to play in the mud.

“There are so many different things in life,” says Freman. “For many people, the garden is an important part of who you are. It is more than just a hobby. The garden connects plants to people, and there is healing power in them.

Want to know more about gardening? Virginia Cooperative Expansion Master Gardeners Can Help You! Leading gardeners bring resources to Virginia Land Gift Universities: Virginia Tech and Virginia State University. Contact your local top gardener through your Extension Office or click here to learn more about gardening and the Virginia Extension Master Gardener Program in Virginia.

– Written by Devin Johnson

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