Gardening strengthens family ties, mental and physical health

Many gardeners start their season in the spring and cultivate their own fresh food and beautiful plants. These gardens also bring the gardener’s families together and benefit their health


Donna Parcell

A-maize-ing…Shucking corn, amateur gardener Kadlin Grau preps homegrown corn. Grau’s grandma has passed on her green thumb to her grandchildren by sharing the value of gardening.

By bringing them closer to nature and their families, gardeners enjoy their time outside and the plants they cultivate by getting outdoors and growing things on their own.

Souderton resident Donna Parcell started gardening when she was a child growing up on her parents farm. “I was always outside with dad and he
taught me everything,” Parcell said. “That makes me feel like I’m still connected to him still when I’m out there doing that.” Parcell grows a lot of the same plants that people important to her had. “I have a petunia that was my grandmothers and I have a lot of irises and some are from my mom’s mom’s,” Parcell said.

“Every time these things come back each year and bloom I think of those special people and remember them.” According to Parcell, both her children
and grandchildren love gardening with her and she enjoys sharing those moments with them.

“My grandson even as a baby would just love to sit there and watch me garden. When he was old enough to walk he would walk out and harvest things,” Parcell said.

Parcell even plants specific items just for them. “I planted a sunflower garden for my granddaughter. It was a little circle of sunflowers she can sit in and have fun,” Parcell said.

Junior Vincent Puppo says he enjoys gardening with his mother and learning from her. “It’s mostly my mom who knows a lot 16 Earth Day Feeds Young Souls May 5, 2023 of things about plants, like when to water them and the seasons,” Puppo said. “I’m kinda just there to dig holes, build up the
greenhouse and do construction, like nailing wooden planks together for the plant boxes.”

Puppo said he thinks one aspect of gardening that he enjoys is the access to fresh food it provides. “Natural grown food or organic home
grown produce is a lot fresher and tastes a lot better than the store bought produce that has just been sitting there and has preservatives like canned food,” Puppo said.

Parcell agrees, saying some years she has even been able to “be self-sustaining for vegetables from about June to October.” “It can’t be any fresher than picking it and putting it right in your mouth,” Parcell said.

Senior Saige Ross enjoys bonding with her mom in their garden. “I started gardening when I was 5 and my mom taught me how to water and plant
plants and then I would help harvest,” Ross said.

Harleysville resident Virginia Woodbury said she likes that gardening gets her outside and exercising along with benefiting her mentally.
“I like the mental health benefits of being outdoors,” Woodbury said. Ross says gardening has been beneficial for her physical and mental health as well.

“Gardening means a lot to me, it brings me happiness and makes me hopeful,” Ross said.

Puppo said anyone can garden and that it’s great to start small and work your way up.

“It’s a fun hobby, you can get started in your room with little plants, growing basil,” Puppo said.

Parcell said that she herself still has crops that fail but it makes the ones that work all that much more rewarding.