“Vitamin N” is Good for You & Your Family

Child in Garden

Gardening with Children Reaps Many Benefits for Both Youth and Adults


What is “Vitamin N”? N = Nature.  I got my dose of “Vitamin N” yesterday when I had the good fortune to spend a few hours at my parent’s farm. The sounds and smells of nature always rejuvenates my soul and body. There’s nothing like getting your hands dirty! The smell of freshly turned soil in the spring… wonderful!

Research shows nature is good for us and has both long and short term mental and physical health benefits. The positive impact of exposure to nature and gardening is well documented. In 2008, University of Michigan researchers found that after an hour interacting with nature, memory performance and attention spans improved by 20 percent. University of Kansas researchers recently reported a 50 percent boost in creativity for people who were steeped in nature for a few days.

“Research also confirms, that nurturing plants is good for us: attitudes toward health and nutrition improve, kids perform better at school, and community spirit grows. Every April communities, organizations, and individuals nationwide celebrate National Garden Month. Gardening can be a great way to enjoy the outdoors, get physical activity, beautify the community, and grow nutritious fruits and vegetables.” — Lisa Franzen-Castle, UNL Extension Nutrition Specialist (Source: April is Gardening Month – Acreage e-News)

OK – so what can you do? How about be a nature mentor to a child? This is a perfect opportunity to involve your children or grandchildren. Suggestions to get you started:

  • Plant a garden. Create a backyard wildlife habitat. Replant with native species to encourage butterflies, birds and native pollinators.
  • Encourage children to dig holes and play in the dirt, help them explore the differences in plants and seeds, provide a hand lens and field guides, build bird houses and nest boxes for bees.
  • (Personally, I love this one)…. Be a hummingbird — not a helicopter — parent or grandparent. Don’t hover over your children or grandchildren, but watch from a distance as they play in nature. You want to keep them safe, but let them create and explore.
  • Start a 4-H club or a nature club where multiple families or groups of adults share hikes and other activities. Get to know nature where you live.

Resources:

Be sure to take time to get your dose of “Vitamin N” today!

Soni

UNL Extension provides research-based information to help you make informed decisions any time, any place, anywhere – http://lancaster.unl.edu

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