Gardening for mental health and the benefits of eating fresh produce

In this month’s webinar, gardening expert Kim Ehman and Aspira culinary co-ordinator Adam Blacklock delved into the profound health benefits of gardening and eating fresh local produce for those in retirement living. Their insights, rooted in years of experience and genuine passion, shed light on how engaging with nature and consuming its bounty can enhance our lives. To watch this webinar please click here.

“It does so much for us emotionally and spiritually”
Kim, with her background rooted deeply in the joys and health benefits of gardening, shared, "Gardening for mental health, it really is more than just physically looking after plants and planting. It does so much for us emotionally and spiritually." This statement highlights the holistic impact of gardening, encompassing emotional and spiritual well-being beyond the physical act of plant care.

Eating fresh, local produce is key
Delving into the nutritional aspect, Kim explained the importance of consuming a good diet over a bad one and highlighted the critical difference between store-bought produce and that which is garden-fresh. She put forward a Heather Morgan quote, "Every time we eat or drink, we are either feeding disease or we're fighting it," emphasizing the powerful role diet plays in our health. Kim further illuminated, "Produce is much more nutrient dense when you're picking it fresh and eating it from local or your own gardens than buying it from the supermarket."

The deep connection we have with healthy foods
Kim also shared an intriguing insight into the natural patterns in food and their resemblance to human organs, a concept understood by ancient cultures. She detailed, "When you look at a carrot, the inside of a cut carrot looks like a human eye...a tomato, a tomato has four chambers; it's red, as does our heart. So the tomatoes are good for our heart." This fascinating perspective invites us to consider the deeper connections between our food and bodies.

Kim also gave helpful gardening hints about growing techniques for separate crops and how to get your timing right. She also offered fertilizing tips and talked about “companion gardening”. Companion gardening is figuring out what crops grow well next to each other in a garden growing area.

The benefits of tower gardens
Ehman then spoke about the environmental positives and health benefits of tower gardens before giving detailed instructions on how to build your own tower garden. “Tower gardening is an advanced technology, it’s called aeroponics. It will grow food for decades to come and it has food safety, so you don’t have to worry about contamination. There’s no weeding, no tilling and aeroponic crops use 90 percent less water than dirt growing so this is great for soil and water conservation.” 

Fresh produce at Aspira
Adam Blacklock, contributed his culinary expertise by speaking about the importance of using high-quality, fresh produce to enhance the flavour and nutritional content of meals served in retirement communities. “Good quality produce is so important to all our chefs. It is our cornerstone at Aspira. We source our produce from local suppliers.” 

Throughout the webinar, the emphasis was not just on the act of gardening but on the broader implications of this engagement with nature—be it the joy it brings, its therapeutic benefits, the importance of starting a pollinator garden, or the nutritional power of the produce harvested.

The webinar served as a powerful reminder of the simple yet profound pleasures and benefits of gardening and consuming more home or locally-grown produce in your diet. Attendees were encouraged to embrace the garden's bounty for its immense potential to enrich our lives, especially in the golden years of retirement. To watch this webinar please click here.

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