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Fresh fruit and the smell of dirt: how gardening promotes many spectrums of health

April 2, 2015

The earth began to slightly awaken last Friday morning when the feet of permaculture gardeners massaged the dirt. After clambering over the snowy-ice piles that were left over from the ever-lasting winter, the gardeners gathered their tools and began chipping away at what remained of last season — chipping away at what was dead and looking forward to a splendid spring.

The Ithaca College Permaculture Garden holds its values in providing edible, hyper-local plants to students, while also being a place of aesthetic beauty, environmental friendliness and a stress-free space.


And while I enjoy sloshing around in the mud like any 4-year-old child, the action of gardening has been proven to encourage positive vibes. According to a study at Bristol University, the bacteria that creates dirt’s distinct smell contributes to happiness and sound mental health. The chemicals in the dirt increase serotonin production in the brain, which can relieve anxiety and promote that good-feeling mood.


Mud, the outdoors and fresh fruit: a combination to make any child at heart giggle with delight.


This spring, the permaculture gardeners will be growing and self-harvesting hardy kiwi, Asian pears and strawberries, simply to name a few. The garden will be 100 percent organic, using mulches made of compost, comfrey plants and other deceased plants from the previous season. The garden will never use synthetic fertilizers, sewage sludge or ionizing radiation, holding true to the definition of organic.


And what better way to kick off the months of sunshine than to relieve some stress, smell some earth, harvest some fruit and clamber over the snowy-ice piles no more.


While I’m barely scratching the surface on the benefits of hyper-local gardening, I’m keen to find out what you like the most about gardening — be it the action or the idea of it. Let me and the rest of our team know in the comments down below!

~ Christie Citranglo

*** If you are interested in gardening with us, we are at the Ithaca College Permaculture Garden — located in the Southeastern corner of Williams Hall — every Friday afternoon from 12:15–1:15 p.m. Shoot us an email if you have any questions at ***

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