Local seniors say gardening has improved their mental health

BRYAN, Texas — Gardening has its health and well-being benefits, and we see it here in the Brazos Valley.

Better Living for Texans and local seniors gathered for a six-week course on how to grow and nurture a healthy community and help their mental health.

Katie Zender is an educator at Better Living for Texans and led the six-week gardening course.

“We’ve talked about starting seeds, choosing your veggies, how to cook and store them safely, how to build raised beds, and everything under the sun when it comes to gardening,” says Katie Zender, Extension Agent, Better Living for Texas.

Mary Haynie is one of the local seniors who took part in the six week course. She recently lost both her parents and says gardening just makes her feel good.

“Gardening, just being outside has really helped me a lot,” says Mary Haynie, a member of the Brazos County Senior Citizen Association. “It has helped my mental mind. When you have fun, you remember it. You keep it.”

dr. Charlie Hall is a Texas A&M professor in the Department of Horticultural Sciences and researches the positive benefits of gardening.

He says memory retention is one of the benefits.

“It helps tone their body’s tonality and strengthens their core where they’re more balanced,” says Dr. Charlie Hall, Professor, Texas A&M, Horticultural Science. “It improves their hand-eye coordination. Their memory is enhanced. They remember things better.”

Haynie says gardening gives her more than just fruits and vegetables. It gives her purpose.

“It gives me purpose to get out in the sun every day and see my plants,” Haynie says. “It makes me happy.”

Seniors on the six-week course said they not only build friendships, but also have something to look forward to every day.

Better Living for Texans helps low-income families and Zender taught the local seniors about planting seeds to reap their harvest.

“We work with different groups, individuals who qualify for SNAP and partner with them to provide nutrition education, gardening education and exercise,” says Zender.

Georgia Seales is a local senior who says the program has been good for the soul and benefited her in more ways than one.

“I love it,” says Georgia Seales, a member of the Brazos County Senior Citizen Association. “It’s a great stress reliever. You get closer to God and you just can’t imagine the benefits you reap.”

dr. Hall says gardening mimics the life skills we use every day.

“When you plant a seed, it’s like holding a fork,” says Dr. hello. “It helps with other life skills, all the things you would do in gardening. There’s just something about getting your hands dirty.”

Lisa McDonald is it with Dr. Hello. She enjoys the hands-on experience.

“It’s wonderful to get out and dig in the earth and listen to the birds sing and not think about life’s problems,” said Lisa McDonald, a member of the Brazos County Senior Citizen Association.

Katie looks forward to teaching another class at the Brazos County Senior Citizens Association to continue helping the community.

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