Dig deeper – cultivating your health goals in the garden

woman with weeds in her hands standing in flowerbeds

It’s almost time for lunch, and Doreen Cochrane has spent her morning weeding in Norwich.

St. Stevens Square Community Garden is a blaze of colour amidst the grey city, with vibrant flowers packing a punch.

Doreen stood in a green garden in front of a bench
Doreen in the garden

The air is full of drizzle and the sky is grey, but she laughs and jokes her way around the flowerbeds.

“I’m full of arthritis; it exercises my hands, my mind… I love it.

“I weed, I plant bulbs, I cut dead heads off, I entertain… what don’t I do?”

The garden’s sign is adorned with photos of Doreen and her community building the garden from scratch.

Gardening is proven to improve mental health, physical health, and increases your exposure to vitamin D; the Royal College of Physicians even suggests more green spaces for gardening could reduce strain on the NHS.


Gardening had a renaissance during the pandemic as entertainment industries ground to a halt.

A trend romanticising a simple, rural way of living gained popularity on social media.

‘Cottagecore’ celebrates a slower way of life: embracing nature, traditional crafts, and picking wildflowers.

This brought social media into the gardening game and The Independent found 4 in 5 young people thought gardening was “cool”.

Councillors and community members in Norwich have been working to keep this health and environment friendly trend running.

For every 1% increase in green space in a community, there’s a 1.2% decrease in violent crime.

Raised and low flowerbeds full of greens in the 3SG community gardens
Crops in the 3SG garden

Another community garden called 3SG mostly grows fruits and vegetables; the raised beds are brimming with fresh salad leaves and beans are climbing up poles.

Cate Oliver is the councillor for Town Close Ward and “loves” working in 3SG.

woman with weeds in her hands standing in flowerbeds
Cate Oliver pulling weeds

“I really like being part of a group

“It definitely feels like a bit of a workout, muscles are being used that I don’t usually use!

“Its really easy to be sedentary with online meetings et cetera, I can really tell the difference

“I feel like I’ve moved in a healthy way.”

Three hours of gardening can burn 600-700 calories according to sports scientists at Loughborough University, so if you’re looking for a more peaceful workout than the gym, gardening may be for you.

Fewer young people own homes than ever before, so using a community garden is a convenient way to reap these benefits.

Leave a Reply

%d bloggers like this: