This Mandela Day, we’d like to encourage you to make today the START of doing good EVERYDAY. Nelson Mandela devoted his life to social justice and the struggle for human rights. We want to encourage positive change all year round, and focusing on a day, is a great start to build momentum, as the difference starts with you.

Madiba himself loved gardening. He said that the garden he maintained in prison gave him a small taste of freedom. Nelson Mandela understood that freedom is more than the world beyond prison walls; freedom is having the right to education, freedom is having enough to eat, freedom is doing work that can support a family, freedom is clean air, fresh water and a green environment.

This Mandela Day, start your journey by doing good for yourself and spend some time outdoors – in the garden. Here is why gardening and being outdoors is what the doctor should have been ordering all along:

  • Exposure to vitamin D
    • Your body produces vitamin D when exposed to sunshine. Vitamin D helps to absorb calcium, which is essential for bone health and boosting your immune system. Gardening is the perfect way to spend time outside in the sun, doing something good for the environment and good for you too! Always remember to put on sunscreen to protect your skin and sunglasses to protect your eyes!
  • Stress reducing and decreased risk of dementia
    • Gardening fights stress even better than other hobbies do. A stress study showed that participants completed a stressful task and were then told to read inside or go outdoors and garden for 30 minutes. The gardening group reported better moods afterward, and their blood tests showed lower levels cortisol, the stress hormone.  Physical activity, particularly gardening, could reduce the incidence of dementia in future years.
  • Improve overall health
    • Spending time outside can fight fatigue, anxiety and depression, improve blood pressure, boost mental health, and decrease cancer risk. Walking in nature could improve your short-term memory and have a protective effect on your eyes, reducing the risk of developing near-sightedness (myopia). Outdoor activity could improve your ability to focus, and perform better on creative tasks. Another study found that people immersed in nature for four days boosted their performance on a creative problem-solving test by 50%.

If you would like to begin your own urban veggie garden or are interested in volunteering at the Let It Grow Foundation sites to learn more about urban farming, permaculture and agroecology, get it touch.