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Sowing resilience

Looking for a way to relieve stress in uncertain times? How about gardening?

SAN ANTONIO — “Yeah, the water comes up here then it runs down through here,” said Gina Davison, standing on the front porch of her apartment, gesturing to the thin, white, plastic structure next to her.

“...and fertilizes all of these, on a 15-minute timer,” she finished, pointing to several small cups sticking out of the sides. "So it’s 15 minutes on, 15 minutes off.”

The hydroponic tower garden she is describing is just starting to grow sprouts.

Davison has had a lot of time on her hands lately. Most of her photography clients cancelled their sessions after the stay home, work safe order went into effect in San Antonio. So she decided to tend to an old passion.

 “I was the weirdo teenager. Instead of going out then, I was growing an herb garden,” she said.

Davison expects the garden will produce too much food for her and her son. With the rest, she hopes to do some good. With the help of her “Hippy Helpers” Facebook group, she hopes to distribute the extra food to people who need it.

“Right now the food banks are overwhelmed, and there’s a lot of people out of work. I just want to help with that,” she said.

Davison says growing her own food makes her feel more secure in an uncertain time.

“I want people know that they can also take control of their food system a little bit,” she said. “If they’re growing things that gives them a little more control over what’s available to them.”

Plant nurseries like Rainbow Gardens on  8516 Bandera Road are also encouraging people to look toward gardening to relieve stress during a difficult time.

 “We’ve got things like sage, parsley, lavender, oregano,” nurseryman and partner Brandon Kirby said, listing off some of the plants they have in one of their sample "resilience gardens."

Landscaping businesses like Rainbow Gardens have been deemed essential by local leaders, so they’ve been able to remain open. But Kirby says business is slower than they typically expect this time of year.

“Since the coronavirus crisis, we’ve certainly seen a decrease in foot traffic—which is to be expected for any retailer,” he said. “We’re in our busiest season right now, and so with foot traffic down, business has been slower than usual."

Kirby thinks people would benefit from growing resilience gardens inspired by the “victory gardens” of the world wars. 

“The resilience garden can be fruit, it can be vegetables, it can be ornamentals,” he said. “On one side it can help increase available food supply, reduce your dependence on stored, and on the other hand it can provide a relaxing outlet to decompress from all the stress that we’re experience in the environment today.”

Kirby said that people who are new to gardening should educate themselves on gardening before they spend a lot of money on soil and equipment. He said the learning center on their website is a good place to start.  

As for what to plant, he had a few pieces of advice.

“A great thing for first-timers are vegetables. They’re easy to grow,” Kirby said. “Beans in particular are fun to grow from seed, and you can have bountiful yields very easily. So that is a great beginner plant.”

Kirby also said that getting out in the garden can be a great way to relieve stress and anxiety.

“I think we can all agree that getting out and doing a good job on the yard or completing a project that you’ve been wanting to complete is rewarding,” he said. “But also having that color or the fruits and vegetables that yield from that project can be an extra source of confidence and happiness in this time of high stress.”

When it comes to relieving stress, for Gina at least, it has proven quite fruitful.

“It’s been very helpful mentally, to help get through this,” she said.

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