Although united by their green fingers, those who take to gardening do so for countless different reasons. With rising greenhouse gas emissions causing harm to the ecosystem throughout the years, gardening for many has become a way to make a difference and combat climate change. On a larger scale, countries like Singapore, Sweden and the Netherlands have led the charge in meeting green targets. Combining nature with man-made projects, some of these countries have even implemented beautiful architecture, so they’re not only fighting climate change but they’re doing it in style!
For others, gardening is a powerful activity with the potential for change deeper than where you sew your seeds. Impressive projects by people like Ron Finley, more proudly known as the Gangsta Gardener, have transformed neighbourhoods in inner city areas in the US and created literal concrete jungles.
For Ron who lives in South Central LA in a predominantly black and Latino neighbourhood with poor access to decent supermarkets, gardening is not so much about the plants but more about the people. To him, it is an out of the ordinary form of protest which can change lives and bring communities together.
“Gardening is the most therapeutic and defiant act you can do… We’re cultivating ourselves”
His mantra? “Plant some sh*t.” In the video below, Ron tells us more about the urban gardening that he does in a film with executive producer John Legend (no big deal!).
Why is all of this important? Well, aside from the obvious benefits of CO2 absorption from plants and being self-sufficient and sustainable in relation to climate change, new research from Cornell University has found that as little as 10 minutes in a natural setting can help you feel happier and reduce both physical and mental stress, highlighting the social benefits of emerging yourself in nature too! So, if lockdown is starting to feel a little much, make sure you’re taking the time to look after yourself and have regular breaks with nature.
If you too want to become part of the gardening movement, then why not try taking it up during the lockdown to make the space around you (and inside you) a little greener and more cheerful? For most of us living in urban areas, an outdoor space isn’t an option so you could start out with something like an indoor potted plant grown from your would-have-been-discarded chilli seeds.
The real takeaway here is that gardening is good for you, good for the planet and also easier than you think. A recyclable container that used to hold some tomato soup, plus soil from Amazon and some seeds from your food waste can produce herbs, veggies, fruits or flowers. Just don’t overthink it: you’ll probably make mistakes and you’ll likely lose a few plants to inexperience in the beginning but nurturing plants is a great way to enjoy some calm amongst the fast-paced city-living, become a little more self-sufficient and even spruce up your living space!
For those of you interested in giving urban gardening a go, I’ve included some helpful links to indoor potted soil on Amazon and the Royal Horticultural Society (RHS) who have great guides on growing your own plants. And, if you do give it a go, be sure to show us how you’re getting on by sharing your photos and tagging us on Facebook or Instagram!
Also, for those of you interested in Ron Finley’s work and more on urban gardening's background, I’ve included links to further reading and Ron’s famous Ted Talk (a must watch if you’re asking me!).