We should all be gardeners by Natasha Barnes (first published in West Sussex County Times)

Natasha Barnes Trafalgar REC Oct 2021

Gardening is for everyone – I truly believe that!

It’s time to change its reputation as a middle class hobby for retirees or young people who would like a pet but don’t fancy finding poo on the carpet- so they settle for a cheese plant. From some pots on a balcony to an ambitious permaculture project, I challenge you to feel the benefits!

Reasons to try gardening ASAP:

1: Learn some skills that humans throughout history have relied upon. Get acquainted with the creatures that inhabit your area and learn how things change through the seasons. It is deeply satisfying and an empowering experience to acquire skills to grow and then eat something lovingly grown by yourself.


2: Getting your hands dirty is underrated! We live in times where cleanliness is more important than ever, and gardening can be a bit of respite from that. Kick back against our strangely sterilised reliance on supermarkets and ignorance about what foods actually look like! We need as wide a diversity of ‘good bacteria’ as possible to thrive, and we find these in healthy soil.


3: Experience a little more awe and wonder within the everyday. There are some inspiring experiences with nature waiting for you on your doorstep! It can be mesmerizing to find an insect you have never seen before or a plant growing in an unusual manner. It’s a wonderful lesson to learn that even the small can be immersive and joyful.


4: Soak up some mental health benefits. Being outside in green spaces and open to fascinating experiences whilst growing is proven to have anxiety-easing effects, reduce negative rumination and can help to treat depression and other mental health challenges. Understanding how to care for an ever-changing garden can also inspire us to better meet our own health needs and cultivate more self-kindness.  In care homes, elderly residents were each given a pot plant.  Those who were given the plant as theirs to care for, thrived as individuals alongside their plants, while those who were told that the staff were going to care for it, showed no visible benefit.


5: Physical health benefits. Gardening can range from light to intense exercise depending on the chosen task. Research shows that the pride gardeners take in eating their own produce encourages higher fruit and veg consumption and nutritional benefits into the long term.

7: THE BEST SAVED FOR LAST! Local community gardening groups are popping up everywhere. Gardening with others is true community building, a rare delight in our Covid and digital age.  It helps to establish a richer sense of feeling comfortably at home in our local area. There are fantastic opportunities to take pride in a garden, especially if you don’t have your own, and to meet new people. Together we can achieve things that would be impossible in an allotment or private garden!


Friends of the Rec at Victory Road Recreation Ground Contact Ann: 07709 070981

Friends of Horsham Park

Horsham Green Gym

Friends of Chesworth Farm

Nuthurst Community Allotment

Horsham Green Spaces _FB?