Building Communities One Garden at a Time

Once in a while we find interesting comments in our reading and discussions.  We place them here occasionally to stimulate thinking about gardening and our relationship with the natural world.  For example, the following looks at what others say the values of public gardens are.  Send us your comments in the reply window at the end of the page.

Benefits of Public Gardens

“Nature is not just ‘nice’ . . . It is a vital ingredient in healthy human functioning.”

Much research shows that people have positive responses to plants and green spaces.  It has been theorized that people are often overwhelmed by the noise, movement, and visual complexity of the modern world, and that quieter, less chaotic plant environments, such as a gardens, reduce stress.   Other research suggests that human evolutionary history may help to explain why we like plants and green spaces.

Our ancestors living on the broad African plains learned to associate trees and plants with food and water, creating positive feelings that we still carry today.  You can conclude that human evolutionary history makes a human connection with nature a necessity, not a luxury.

It has also been discovered that simply looking at a plant can reduce stress, fear, and anger; and even lower blood pressure and muscle tension.  Prison inmates in cells with windows overlooking greenery need less medical care and report fewer symptoms of stress, such as headaches, than other inmates.   People shown urban scenes with some vegetation recover more quickly from stress than people exposed to urban scenes without vegetation.   Clearly, the introduction of green vegetation into the urban landscape provides an important psychological benefit to humans.”

Natural settings can reduce stress and mental fatigue, improving the ability to focus attention on important tasks, and ease the stress of day-to-day life.   Nature provides the fatigued human mind with a “restorative” change of pace. A visit to even a small garden gives a person the feeling of “being away” from stressful settings.   Garden landscapes  offer  a “fascination” stimulus that evokes  effortless mental activity, as opposed to the strenuous, focused mental activity required for work tasks.

Nature has restorative powers.  A nurse working with cancer patients, noticed that even patients with excellent medical prospects reported a severe inability to focus and had difficulty managing their lives after leaving the hospital. Patients who agreed to regularly participate in gardening rapidly improved. They also returned to work and to their normal lives more quickly than patients who did not participate in gardening activities.

Others Tell Us That Public Gardens:

Provide important mental-health benefits                 Provide tax benefits to the localities by elevating near by property values
Help develop leaders                                                Helps feed people
Promotes healthier citizens                                      Reduce stress
Helps preserve local cultural heritage                      Provide a place for children to learn

To this list, the Board of Directors of SVBG, offer the following benefits that now comprise our long range goals:

We Seek to Provide Community Resources for the Following:

  1. Accessible gardening for its therapeutic value
  2. Youth gardening activities
  3. More active outdoor lifestyle
  4. Develop social and interpersonal skills
  5. Develop healthy eating habits and nutrition awareness
  6. Promote science Achievement and positive attitudes toward learning among youth
  7. Promote intercultural relationships
  8. Assist in the economic redevelopment of Southern Virginia
  9. Increase property values
  10. Attract and retain residents and businesses
  11. Add a tourist destination to the area’s assets
  12. Promote environmental stewardship
  13. Demonstrate pollution abatement and cooling effect of landscaping
  14. Demonstrate control of storm water runoff
  15. Improve the quality of life of area residents
  16. Reduce crime
  17. Provide recreational opportunities
  18. Develop a stronger sense of community
  19. Promote cultural  awareness
  20. Dedicate a Native American Garden in tribute to those stewards of the earth
  21. Develop collaborations with other organizations to help revitalize the region
  22. Provide education opportunities for adults and youth
  23. Offer a beautiful, natural place of refuge from the everyday world
  24. Provide a destination for local residents and improve their quality of Life
  25. Teach about the rich variety of plants in our world
  26. Demonstrate how to improve personal landscapes
  27. Provide education on new plant varieties and their uses
  28. Teach about the historical uses of plants
  29. Develop fully the social role of the garden
  30. Show how public gardens improve the well being of residents
  31. Engage in plant conservation and restoration of native species
  32. Conduct research on the impact of a changing climate in Southern Virginia
  33. Assist in the development of new plant varieties
  34. Provide a place to enjoy the uniqueness of each season in a garden
  35. Collaborate with other gardens worldwide to enhance our role and improve our services