Did you know gardening is healthy for social bonds as well as for the body and the planet? Sothy Eng (FCS) recently published an article in the American Journal of Lifestyle Medicine, “Healthy Lifestyle Through Home Gardening: The Art of Sharing,” with three UHM undergraduate students that explains just that. Tricia Khun is studying molecular cell biology, and Samantha Jower and Mary Janell Murro, both in HDFS, are interning in Sothy’s Home Garden Network program discussed in the article.
The article offers a way to promote a healthy lifestyle through home gardening and details how gardening activities create social capital through social interactions among family members and people within communities. It reviews the general social, psychological, and physical health benefits of home gardening and then discusses barriers to starting a garden such as lack of time, scarce resources, insufficient knowledge and skills, and inadequate space. The article argues that beyond skills and knowledge, inspiration is the key to creating and sustaining a home garden. Families network in a community and build social relationships through gardening, increasing opportunities to inspire and be inspired. This fosters a greater sense of joy in gardening, encourages a chain reaction of sharing, and connects people together. The article ends with a discussion of promoting a sustainable, active, and healthy lifestyle by engaging children in the process of gardening and sharing plants and produce with their peers and other families, fostering a lifelong appreciation and consumption of plants while they grow, learn, share, and heal together in the process. Sounds like a great idea!