Amid the negativity, the stress and the overwhelming uncertainty revolving around Covid-19, there is importance in finding positivity by involving yourself in activities that you are passionate about or even in something completely new. With rain dominating our weather for the past month, the gardeners in the family are more than just pleased that the sun has finally showed itself.

Climate change once reigned the headlines but today panic-buying has taken over, both provoking anxiety in varying ways. Focusing on agriculture, buying locally grown produce has been continually encouraged, however the coronavirus has created a situation full of fear which has stimulated people into buying anything they can find which could feed their families and thus, the origins of products at this very time is not of importance. Some may argue that we have other things to worry about currently, however others, such as my grandma and my mother, see this worldwide pandemic as an opportunity to focus on the ongoing issue of climate change too. The question we need to ask ourselves is ‘how local can we be?’ It must be understood that not everybody is in the position to commit to such actions, but for those who are able to and do have the facilities, finance and time, gardening appears to the way forward, most especially, the planting of fruits and vegetables.

Last week my mother found some packets of tomato seeds in the shed and rather than throwing them away, she potted them into a tray, kept them in some sunlight and allowed them to germinate. Meanwhile she also found some runner bean seeds and made progress in potting these too. After digging around a little more, she came across some chili and herb seeds; the rest of us knew she was onto something that was more important than it initially seemed.

Although not being a large or regular proportion of the weekly shop, by growing tomatoes and runner beans and incorporating them into our meals, the dread of attempting to find any, let alone fresh, produce in the supermarket is removed. On top of this, the risk of catching Covid-19 posed to the rest of the family by venturing to the shops is also decreased. However, tomatoes and runners beans are just two examples of what can be grown; an increase in variety of what you grow reduces the need to go to the shops and diminishes all the negative impacts that this can have whether it be related to the virus or climate change. If we can have a positive impact in both of areas, it seems only right that gardening should be promoted in these crucial times.

However, just as important is the effect gardening has on our health, both mentally and physically. In a time when our physical health needs to be as good as it can be and when our mental health can be gradually worsening, this should be a priority of ours. Gyms are closing and recently parks have been too so therefore, activities like gardening seem almost essential. My mother, Hansdai Patel, states herself that ‘being in the open air has immediate positive effects on my well-being, reducing the stress which simply increases by watching the news, and physically the burning of calories and absorption of vitamin D is an added bonus.’ Increased vitamin D levels are confirmed to improve your immune system, a physical improvement necessary is fighting the coronavirus.

Similarly, my grandma has been getting outside to garden to help her physical and mental health. Being in isolation is hard, but when you have the ability to garden, you should not be taking this opportunity to go out whilst being safe for granted. It is important to note that fruits and vegetables are not the only plants that should be grown; growing any plant will help the environment and so, if you find that your local supermarket does not have a shortage of the fruits and vegetables that you want, planting trees or small shrubs can help your body physically and mentally too. As well as planting some spinach and red currents, my grandma planted some geraniums and a small blossom tree. Rather than focusing on the benefits of the gardening directly, she concentrated on the outcome as she told me ‘growing plants is very fulfilling and in this time of unpleasant behaviour and, in some people’s eyes, a lack of accomplishment in the government, gardening allows you to be satisfied since, whilst the world may be falling apart, your plants will still be growing.’ This positivity seen through my mother and grandma seems difficult to achieve amongst the worry that is circulating continuously, however, keeping a positive outlook on life whilst keeping safe appears to be one of the only methods that the population can all use to overcome this pandemic.

Sarika Patel