Sankofa Garden Homes: The many benefits of living in the garden

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Sankofa Gardening Homes

This month I will focus on another theme that does not have direct relationship to planting or harvesting in our Sankofa Home Gardens. I would like to focus on “living in the garden.”

Our African ancestors who built America spent many hours working in gardens, but they spent little time living in the gardens.

While they spent more time outdoors than we do today, being outdoors was a matter of necessity because they lacked many of the conveniences we lavish in today. Sitting under a tree or cooking on the grill was a way of staying cool and not heating up the house, thus indirectly reaping the benefits of what being outdoors offered.

You may be asking, “How do I live in the garden?”

The first thing I would like to note is that modernity has forced most people in the U.S. to spend more time inside their homes rather than outside.

The results of this is breathing bad air, little exercise, less human interaction and detachment from nature. Air conditioners, televisions and comfortable furniture have robbed many of us of the gifts that nature has to offer.

As in last month’s article, I would like to offer some tips from sources that can help us appreciate the value of living outdoors or “living in the garden.”

Ex Design Group – http://www.exdesigngroup.com – offers the following five tips related to the value of creating outdoor living spaces:

  1. Reduce stress: Find your refuge – a place for quiet contemplation that offers an antidote to the hustle and pressure of life. It might be relaxing on an outdoor recliner. Listen to the gentle sounds of nature and feel the stress melt away. Therapeutic outdoor spaces are the latest trend in healing stress relief, but throughout history gardens and outdoor spaces have been used to aid in the healing process.

  2. Boost the immune system: Exposure to trees is said to possibly prevent asthma. Having natural surroundings results in an increased immune system. It also encourages children to play outdoors rather than on concrete or confined inside.

  3. Promote good vision: Spending time outdoors is said to help your vision. It can prevent nearsightedness in 6 to 12 year olds.

  4. Help with ADD/ADHD: Interaction with constant noise and stimulation can be very distracting and demanding of your attention. Having an outdoor space in a busy city or urban environment gives you a relaxing space away from it all. In children with ADHD, a 20-minute walk in a park may improve the ability to concentrate, so imagine what a serene outdoor space could provide.

  5. Help with depression symptoms: If you are looking for an all-natural way to boost your mood, turn to nature. Spending time outdoors can help reduce the symptoms of depression. Whether you have depression or want to improve your emotional health, start findings ways to get outdoors each day. Having a natural outdoor living space at home can help make this happen every day.

While many of you may have thought of creating an outdoor space, you may have stopped short of doing so because you think it will be too expensive, or you don’t have the room or time.

I would suggest that you begin with something as simple as a chair on the porch or placing a table and chairs near your barbecue grill. Place a chair and table under a tree or buy a table with chairs and an umbrella and put them in a peaceful environment.

You can add potted plants – both flowers and vegetables – while gradually working your way up to above ground gardens.

To compliment your outdoor living space, you can add chimes, windmills, yard art, bird baths, candles and incense.

Playing jazz music on your phone or a system can add to a relaxing atmosphere while you read, enjoy your favorite meal, have a drink or entertain families and friends. Don’t forget repellent for mosquitoes and bugs.

In b.b.begonia, a designer outdoor rug catalog, 4 of their 6 tips for outdoor living spaces gives more support to the reasons we should have a living space outdoors:

  1. Brings your family and loved ones together: An outdoor living area can be a single common area where your loved ones can gather to enjoy a sumptuous dinner under the stars and a place where one can tell stories endlessly like at a camp. Everyone will want to just hang out.

  2. Enables you to extend your home and entertain guests: Being an extension of your home, your outdoor living area can be utilized to ease up the traffic inside your home, especially during birthday parties or usual Friday hangouts with friends.

  3. Increases the value of your property: Unlike other home improvement projects, well-designed outdoor living areas increase the value of your property significantly.

  4. Helps you save money: Creating an inviting, enjoyable outdoor environment at home will surely save you money from pricy vacation trips.

Being the most valuable investment you will make, living in and out of your home makes good investment sense, while also making your life and your family healthier.

Make sure you take the time to think through your outdoor living space. You may even want to draw out your space before creating it. Taking a picture of the space will help you select items when you begin to shop for your outdoor living space.

Don’t think that you have to buy everything new or at one time. You may be surprised at the things you already have that you can repurpose and use.

Shopping at flea markets, and even picking up items others have thrown away, can make an excellent contribution to your outdoor living space. I know – I’ve done it many times!

Remember, “One man’s trash is another man’s treasure.”

I wish you the best as you begin the journey of “living in the garden.” In a real sense, the garden is our first home. We’ve only strayed away from it.

Now it’s time to come home! Welcome home!

Sankofa Education Services is provided by Clarence Glover, known as Professor Freedom, for the purpose of “Taking the chains off our brains so our minds can work.” He can be reached at clarencegloverjr@aol.com.

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