Advice from a new apprentice at the Hanover Arboretum

An intern at the Ability Garden Greenhouse at the NC Cooperative Extension, based in the New Hanover County Arboretum, notes a number of reasons why gardening can bring about a healthier lifestyle.

Have you ever noticed feeling calmer and more relaxed or in a better mood while spending time outside? You may have been involved in a gardening activity at some point in time that made you feel more connected to the world around you. As society pulls us humans away from nature, it is important for us to spend more time immersed in the outdoors to remind us of who we really are. The restorative feelings we often feel while spending time in nature can be described as therapeutic gardening, a term that broadly expresses how nature and gardening activities are used to help deepen the connection between people and plants by strengthening the body, mind, and spirit. Connection.

During my time as an intern at the NC Cooperative Extension’s Ability Garden located in the New Hanover County Arboretum, I was often asked what major led me to this internship. I noticed confused faces when I answered, “General health.” During public health coursework through the University of North Carolina Wilmington, I learned about the impact gardening can have on the community around me.

Natalie Noftsger, UNCW Public Health Intern with Capacity Garden at the NC Cooperative Extension - New Hanover County Arboretum, leads a yoga class.

This semester, I worked with Lake Forest Academy, an alternative-pattern school where elementary and middle school children may be placed for a variety of reasons, including behavioral problems, mental health problems, or victims of abuse or neglect. Ability Garden works with the Garden Club of Lake Forest to educate students about gardening, offer therapeutic benefits, and guide students to develop a relationship with nature. From a public health perspective, students engage in ways to help increase mental health outcomes, increase physical activity while working in the garden, and increase knowledge of the different food crops grown in the garden.

Leave a Reply

%d bloggers like this: