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Princeton researchers discover that home gardening is basically the answer to society’s ills

Princeton researchers discover that home gardening is basically the answer to society’s ills
[Photo: Benjamin Combs/Unsplash]

Home gardening solves everything. This is the finding of a Princeton study published in that media hotbed Landscape and Urban Planning. The study’s press release notes that home gardening is “largely overlooked by policymakers.” Well, yes. So are knitting and napping.

The study tracked 370 Minneapolis-St. Paul residents’ emotional well-being through common activities like walking, bus riding, shopping, and eating out. (Yes, this research was conducted in Before Times.) Researchers found that a third of people do gardening at home for an average of 90 minutes a week. This was news!

“It is hard to know who is gardening at home,” says first author Graham Ambrose, a research project specialist in the Princeton University Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering. “Many more people garden than we think.”

And oh how happy they are. Gardeners report high levels of happiness, among the top third of all activities. Gardeners also report high levels of meaningfulness, especially for vegetable gardening! (Ornamental gardening, less so.) Female and low-income gardeners, who often have a hard lot in life, reported really high emotional well-being! And solo gardeners were just as happy as those with buddies!

“These findings suggest that when choosing future well-being projects to fund, we should pay just as much attention to household gardening,” says Ambrose, who points out that home gardening contributes to livable city and quality food initiatives. Why spend money on a rec center when some dirt and a trowel will do the trick? Plant on.

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