Finding Hope


Nurturing plants may have mental health benefits, experts say

Posted at 5:27 PM, Apr 24, 2020
and last updated 2020-04-28 12:05:12-04

As we've reported, the number of people starting gardens for the first time has skyrocketed this spring.

The owner of North End Organic Nursery, Lindsay Schramm, has seen the impacts of that increased interest firsthand. For her, gardening is a release.

RELATED: Twin Falls man helping new gardeners as interest in self-sufficiency increases

"During these times that's one thing you can do. If you have a house you can go outside and put your hands in the dirt. Mentally I think it's pretty essential for people to be able to get outside and garden," Schramm said.

The nursery had to be shut down for awhile, and Schramm said regulars and new customers alike were upset.

"People were pretty upset--I mean not like angry, but more like 'Oh my gosh what am I going to do? I need to grow a garden. I have to have something productive that you have control over,'" Schramm said.

RELATED: We're Open: North End Organic Nursery still nurturing green thumbs of Boise garden enthusiasts

The nursery has since reopened with curbside shopping and by appointment. Experts say there's a lot of mental health benefits to getting your hands dirty, especially right now.

"Especially for people going through what many of us are going through right now, maybe a lot of us aren't able to effectively meet the demands of the world we're in right now. There's a traumatic, chaotic element that many people are trying to navigate as skillfully as possible," said Logan Lamprecht Ph.D., a psychotherapist and professor at Idaho State University. "I think oftentimes gardening can provide sometimes safer access to connections and sort of slow a person down on a physiological level."

It's called nature therapy, or eco therapy. The idea is to give the gardener a chance to process emotions by slowing down.

"That can take a variety of forms including things like hiking, physical activities, and so gardening I think captures some of the essential components of nature therapy at its best," said Lamprecht. "In whatever form whether it's small scale with a couple of pots or a larger scale version of gardening where you have access to land in some way. It can provide a container for us to work through feelings at the sensory level-which I think is one of the more significant contributions of gardening practice."

If you're interested in starting a garden, or growing plants of your own, several nurseries in both the Treasure Valley and Magic Valley are still open with modified services like pickup or delivery:

Did we miss your favorite nursery in our list? Submit them to our "We're Open" page here.