Gardening, the soil and your health.

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   Health and the Soil 


Real gardening - getting your hands dirty, kneeling in your beds, weeding, staking, planting and feeling the soil - is good for your health. Hiring a gardneer is not the same thing, though we're pretty sure those hired-hands are healthy. Why? Because that dirty soil turns out to be good for you both emotionally and physically.

Christopher Lowry, Ph.D., an assistant professor of integrative physiology at the University of Colorado at Boulder found that a harmless bacteria commonly found in soil increases the release and metabolism of serotonin in parts of the brain that control cognitive function and mood-much like serotonin-boosting antidepressant drugs do.


Lowry claims humans evolved along with M. vaccae and a host of other friendly microbes, and without these "old friends" in our current over sterilized environment "we throw our immune systems out of whack. This can lead to inflammation, which is implicated in a host of modern ills." 

Indeed, many scientists have a better understanding now of what microbes do for us. We've known for a long time that we depend on good gut flora to digest food. But there's a "growing realization that they're really like an 11th organ system. Program director for the Human Microbiome Project at the National Institutes of Health., Lita Proctor said, "You have your lungs, you have your heart and, you know, you have your microbiome."

In "The Unsettling of America, Culture and Agriculture," Wendell Berry wrote, "The soil is the great connector of lives, the source and destination of all. It is the healer and restorer and resurrector, by which disease passes into health, age into youth, death into life. Without proper care for it we can have no community, because without proper care for it we can have no life."     

The health benefits associated with gardening include stress relief, improved brain health, relief from depression, better nutrition, better access to creativity and of course, exercise.


If you don't have the ability to garden in a big way due to lack of outdoor space, you can plant in a variety of containers.

And to make sure you further get your hands in the soil you might volunteer at a concern such as the Sawtooth Botanical Garden or the Hunger Coalition's Hope Garden, in the Wood River Valley.

  The Hope Garden, Hailey, Idaho

The Hope Garden, Hailey, Idaho

Eat local foods that weren't trucked in from afar, such as the Sage School Greens, and all the fantastic organic produce at the Wood River Farmer's Markets. 


Mind, body, spirit: its all in the air we breathe, the food we eat, the water we drink and the soil in which we play.  





The Sawtooth Botanical Garden, in Ketchum, Idaho, will host Mindfulness in the Garden, 

a 3-part class with Stella Stockton, B.Div, CPT.

The series will be held Saturdays, June 1320 and 27 from 10-11 a.m.



Participants will savor the beauty and tranquility of the Garden while learning mindful movement, including Tai Chi and Qi Gong exercises, and meditation techniques for stress relief and rejuvenation. This experiential class is open to all adults; no experience is necessary. 

Register by June 10 at Sawtooth Botanical Garden or call 726-9358. 






Suggested Reading

If you haven't read the classic, creative gardening book, "Digging Deep", then now's the time to do it. More than a step-by-step, Sorin inspires with her prose.

"For an artist, it's an empty canvas; for a writer, a blank page; but for a homeowner, a barren landscape can be an equally daunting proposition. As with any creative endeavor, filling a space with beauty is a task few approach with any degree of self-confidence. But Sorin maintains such intimidation is unnecessary once we learn how to open ourselves up to sensory and imaginative experiences. 

Espousing principles than can and, she hopes, will be applied to other aspects of life, Sorin views gardening as the perfect place to begin one's creative reawakening and offers a thought-provoking series of exercises and practices that will help readers produce their perfect garden setting while developing philosophies and habits that will allow them to enjoy the fruits of their labors."

Booklist Reviews



Songs about GMOs, Monsanto and coffee

Legendary singer-songwriter, farmer and all around earth-dude Neil Young takes on the food monopolies, with help from Lukas and Micah Nelson, and the Promise of the Real. 

Must watch: The Monsanto News



"Let food be thy medicine and medicine be thy food