Home garden project helps with mental health.

Eric Crowshoe and Jaye Tallman delivering soil and garden beds to a couple of participants. Photo courtesy of Melanie Weasel Bear.
By Tawnya Plain Eagle

Peigan Prevention and Counselling Services (PPCS) provided ten homes with supplies to jump start a personal garden. 

When the number of COVID-19 cases began to rise and stay home orders were put in place, Mental Health Worker, Melanie Weasel Bear, along with JoAnne Smith, PPCS Supervisor started looking into ideas their department could support community members who may be dealing with anxiety from the Coronavirus.

“Lots of different councillors have people working with their hands through art therapy because it helps with depression, anxiety and stress,” Weasel Bear said. 

“When I was researching this home garden project, it had similar to benefits,” she added.

According to a study was conducted by the American Society for Horticultural Science in the U.S, it sampled 261 females over the age of 50, who were gardening on a daily basis had experienced significant increase in Life satisfaction, physical activity levels, and overall general health. 

Weasel Bear used these findings and some additional research to put together the home garden project for the community.

“When you’re in nature and under the sun, it helps with depression and anxiety,” she said. 

“Since we have had to self-isolate and this was a way for some of our community members to be outdoors in their own yard and surround themselves with green,” Weasel Bear said.  

Example of the garden beds made by Myron and Pittia Good Rider. Photo courtesy of Melanie Weasel Bear.

She also said that gardening can help with diabetes, heart disease and other chronic illness that many people suffer from. 

At the beginning of May, PPCS reached out the community for 10 interested participants who would like to participate.  

Lucille Provost was eager to participate.

“The last time I gardened was when I was little girl,” she said.

She recalls a time when she was younger and everyone she knew had a garden.

Of course, Provost was thrilled when this opportunity arose because it allowed to garden again spend quality time with her grandchildren – who have also taken an interest in the garden. 

“My granddaughter told me ‘Grandma, when we bring everything in, we can have stew made from our garden,’” Provost said. 

“Of course, you forget things, but we’re doing it again and learning as we go,” she said. 

Peigan Prevention and Counselling Services provided the participants with vegetable seeds to give them the opportunity to grow their own food. 

“There was so much enthusiasm from the participants, they also went out and bought their own seeds and plants, some of them fruit, vegetables, and perennials,” Weasel Bear said.

According to an article posted by Exploring your mind, a blog about psychology and philosophy, doing manual tasks releases serotonin and endorphins and reduce your levels of cortisol, which essentially is the “stress hormone”.

PPCS provided the participants with everything they needed to start a garden such as seed starter trays that were donated by Blue Mouse Green House, and lumber and other material needed to build the garden boxes.

“If the participants wanted a fence, we provided that too,” she added. 

This particular project was a piolet project and Weasel Bear does not know at this moment if this will return. 

However, Provost hopes this can eventually turn into a community garden next year.

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