5 benefits to working in soil

Even if you don’t make your primary living from gardening and not all of your food comes out of your own garden, why do you feel compelled to get down and get dirty? There are at least 5 benefits to working in the soil.


Healthy soil means healthy, low-cost food

Reducing food costs is an obvious reason for gardening. Also, in this day and age of food borne illness, genetically modified foods and pesticide laden crops, there is comfort in knowing exactly how your food is grown and handled. You control what goes into your soil, like amending it with organic compost.


Playing in soil brings people together

Community ties can be strengthened when working in soil. Okay, the neighbors may appreciate your tended gardens and, more specifically, the increase in property values, but I mean in a more charitable manner. Such as when you volunteer to clean up a community green space or work to create a neighborhood P-patch.


Soil makes you happy

Anyone who volunteers knows that he or she gets more out of it than the organization. It just plain feels good to give back. On that note, digging in the dirt will give you plenty to feel good about. There’s a reason that the rose or veggie garden is often a person’s “happy place.” There is a natural antidepressant called Mycobacterium vaccae found in soil. The bacterium stimulates serotonin production, the stuff that makes you feel happy. If we did a study, and maybe someone has, I wouldn’t be surprised to learn that gardeners are less likely to take Prozac and the like!


Working in garden soil is good for your health

Hand in hand with the happiness aspects, gardening has been shown to be mentally as well as emotionally healing. A healthy body requires not only emotional and mental health, but physical wellness. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention list gardening as a moderate intensity level activity. Two and a half hours of this level of activity per week is recommended to reduce the risk for colon cancer, heart disease, high blood pressure, obesity, osteoporosis, type 2 diabetes, and premature death. On top of that, those who garden as their chosen moderate intensity activity tend to do so longer (40-50 minutes longer) than those that choose to walk or bike to get exercise.


Garden soil relieves stress

All that set aside, I know that when I am in my garden communing with nature, all my worries disappear if only for a little while. Gardening is a proven stress reliever for everyone, from busy moms to vets afflicted with PTSD and everyone in between. So turn your mobile device off, shut down your computer, turn off the TV. Go outside and get dirty!