Presenter and horticulturist Monty Don recently spoke about his own struggles with depression and said that gardening can do what medicine only 'tries to mimic' for mental health. Writing in his column for the March issue of Gardeners World Magazine, Monty went on to say: "We know that gardening is good for you. It is fantastic, all-round exercise. That is easy to see and evaluate. It inculcates high levels of well-being. That is undeniable and needs little measurement. We know that it is extremely effective in alleviating and preventing mental illness.”
Promoting good social, emotional and mental health is at the core of ASDAN’s educational principles, which underpin all of our courses. ASDAN’s Gardening Short Course can be used to structure and accredit a whole range of gardening activities – from planting in the garden and growing food on an allotment, to wildlife in the garden and using your produce in the kitchen.
One of the aims of the Gardening Short Course is to develop an awareness of how gardening promotes a healthier lifestyle and can have a positive impact on mental health and wellbeing. Encouraging learners to undertake gardening activities results in many benefits, some of which are listed below.
- Gardening is good physical exercise – especially digging!
- Cooking with produce learners have grown themselves can result in a healthier diet and lifestyle.
- Concentrating on a gardening task encourages mindfulness by helping learners to focus on the present, giving their minds a break from any other worries.
- Spending time outdoors and in green spaces can help learners to connect with nature and relax.
- Gardening is a good way to get some fresh air and spend time away from screens and technology.
- Caring for plants gives learners a sense of responsibility and satisfaction, which can boost their confidence and self-esteem.
To add a wellbeing focus, tutors could introduce a plenary after completing a challenge from the Gardening Short Course, asking learners to identify words that describe how the activity made them feel (eg calm, relaxed, peaceful, energised, satisfied).
Other benefits of gardening include opportunities to develop personal qualities and core skills such as resilience, commitment to a goal, teamwork, self-management and creativity – as explained by the author of the Gardening Short Course, Cathy Marsden, ASDAN Relationship Manager.
Free gardening calendar resource
To support tutors in delivering the Gardening Short Course, ASDAN has created a free seasonal calendar of tasks and ideas. The calendar shows gardening tasks for each season, with links to challenges from the Short Course – it’s the perfect way to plan gardening activities that will help improve young people’s mental health and wellbeing all-year round.
- Download the Gardening Short Course seasonal calendar