Sometimes, after a hectic day, I’ll look up from my stupid phone and realise it’s dark outside. Somehow, I’ve spent the whole day solo, working away on my big digital rectangle and treating myself by scrolling on the smaller one. What kind of existence is that?
In the heart of lockdowns, I swore I’d never take time spent with friends, family, colleagues, or even interactions at the coffee shop for granted – but here I am. Maybe I’ve forgotten how to socialise? Or find it more tiring these days? Whatever it is, I’m not the only one feeling disconnected. Last year, Headspace found that over half of young people in Aus are feeling a sense of loneliness.
So, what the hell do we do?
If we’re all feeling lonely, we’ve got to find ways to connect. A decades-long Harvard study has found that close relationships are what keep us happy throughout our lives. But it can be hard to know where to start – putting yourself out there is daunting.
If you’ve secretly watched that sweet, old bittie down the street yanking out weeds or admiring her roses and wanted to try it for yourself, now is the time.
Gardening is good for mental wellbeing and a worldwide study recently found that contact with nature can even make us feel less lonely. Jackpot.
Plus, you can ramp up the connection by roping in someone else to garden with you. Sharing it will add a sweet social element to the mood-boosting hobby.
If you, like moi, have smooth, baby-like hands that have never seen a hard day’s work in their lives, you’ll be starting at square one. I’ve done the research for you, so you can get out in the sunshine and stuck into your new hobby.
1. Look the part
Before we move on to the right idea, let’s get equipped with the right gear. As a newbie, you’ll want to grab yourself some gloves to help you grip heavier tools. Plus, they’ll keep your hands clean and protected, too. A hand trowel is your best bud for planting, moving soil and removing weeds. And, naturally, a watering can or hose to water your babies. And if you’re committing, come prepared – you’re spending a solid chunk of time outside so also chuck on a hat, sunscreen and bring water to drink.
2. Find a local community garden
Community gardens are run by everyday people in busy cities to produce food and foster a more sustainable future. Plus, joining one will mean you find like-minded locals to spend some wholesome time with.
This nifty site will show you where your closest garden is. It’s also worth checking your neighbourhood Facebook group (those parents are always in the know!) or actually taking in what is written on those flyers on your street. If you don’t have a garden close by, you can always grab some pals and register to start your own with the council.
Most community gardens do have a cost. It helps cover the expenses for stuff like mulch and fertiliser to help run the space. And, you’ll get to reap the veggie rewards, feel proud of making something ~grow~, and feel like part of the community. Given community gardens are run entirely by regular folks like me or you, there isn’t an endless pool of money to dip into. They’re in need of some serious love to keep flourishing.
Lipton Ice Tea is helping Aussies come together and connect in nature by providing funding to transform community gardens. From getting their hands dirty, weeding and spreading mulch, to bringing the gardens to life with new plants, garden beds and power tools, they’re helping to brighten community gardens. By ensuring these spaces are cared for, it means more of us can enjoy and connect in the little slices of local beauty.
3. Ask your green-thumbed mate
Every friend I’ve had who is into gardening, is really into gardening. It’s like a cult. Once they start talking about how to grow tomatoes, they won’t stop. Find that mate and pick their brains for all the best advice on what to do – more importantly, what not to do. Better yet, get into the garden together! You’ll enjoy the experience even more if you catch up as you go.
4. Do your research
If you want to get the most out of your new Mother Nature era – do it right. The last thing you want when you’re trying to feel more connected is to do some serious damage to a shared garden that a heap of other people have worked hard on. Eep – that’s a surefire way to feel on the outs. Research what you’re doing before you dig in (sorry). Know what varieties of plants do well in certain seasons and what can kill them. If you’re looking for basics, suss out some resources on the Community Gardens Australia site and check in on any specific rules at your local garden. Or, just ask your new gardening pals!
Go grab your friend and get those hands nice ‘n dirty. You’ll feel way better for it!