How to Eat More Veggies, Relieve Stress and Improve Your Property Value

— Written By and last updated by Leeann Crump

Changing one thing about your daily routine can accomplish all three of these goals – eating better, reducing stress and improving your neighborhood. Participating in a community garden! Great news – a new garden is being built in Rockingham at 615 Steele Street, called Hitchcock Creek Community Garden.

A great deal of research has been conducted in the past two decades to determine the benefits of gardening, especially for people who garden in community with others. A summary of some of the research is available at

People who participate in gardening eat more vegetables, and so do their families. Adults living in a household with someone who participates in community gardening are 3.5 more likely to eat five servings of fruits and vegetables a day. In a 2011 study it was found that community gardeners consumed fruits and vegetables 5.7 times per day, compared with home gardeners (4.6 times per day) and non-gardeners (3.9 times per day). It has also been found that children who are involved in gardening have a greater knowledge of nutrition and preference for certain vegetables.

Community gardens also break down some of the common barriers of eating more produce including: price, availability and improving the perception of the taste. At the Hitchcock Creek Community Garden, a 48 square foot raised bed can be rented for $10 per year, and many pounds of vegetables can be grown in that space during the garden season.

A 2011 study found that participants selected randomly had reduced effects of stress after spending 30 minutes in their garden plot. Their salivary cortisol levels reportedly decreased and their mood was positive after this period of gardening. Reducing stress is a great health benefit, and coupled with the increased nutrition of vegetable consumption could help us keep those New Year’s resolutions to get healthier in 2014!

Having a quality community garden in the neighborhood has been found to have a statistically significant positive impact on residential properties within 1000 feet of the garden, and that the impact increases over time. Community gardens are one of the things about a neighborhood that is a positive attraction for people considering living there. The garden at Hitchcock Creek is being planned as an attractive raised bed garden located on the foundation of the old Pee Dee Mill #1. The City of Rockingham is sponsoring this garden, along with Richmond County Cooperative Extension and Nourishing North Carolina.

Interested in giving good health through gardening a try? No experience is necessary, as our extension agents will use the garden as a living laboratory for teaching gardening and nutrition topics. To sign up or for more information call the Richmond County Extension Office at (910) 997-8255, email at or go online to to purchase your plot. Eighteen raised beds will be available for purchase and a communal garden plot will also be included to provide vegetables for local food banks. Let’s grow together Rockingham!

~ the preceeding article was published in the Richmond County Daily Journal 1/7/2014

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