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Marshall University Group Pairs Gardening with Mental Health

March 19, 2023

News Release | AP

WV Higher Learning

Vegetables planted by Marshall University's Gro Garden Group are shown on Thursday, March 9, 2023, in Huntington, W.Va. (Sholten Singer/The Herald-Dispatch via AP)

HUNTINGTON, WV - The first of several sessions of a “nature-focused therapy group” at Marshall University met recently with 13 student participants.

That’s how Tiffany Bowes, a mental health specialist in Marshall’s Counseling Center, describes Gro Garden Therapy, which will meet throughout March and April in the Marshall Science Building Greenhouse.

Participating students discussed emotions, decision-making and related strategies and planted seeds that they will get to see grow over the next seven weeks of sessions, Bowes said.

“We went through and picked out themes that would match garden activities that we would have and be able to do with the students,” Bowes said. “So, things like mindfulness, or we talked today a lot about making choices and just being able to be in tune with your emotional side and following through with that. So, things like emotional detoxing or motivation or goal-setting. A lot of these topics and themes are very easily intertwined to nurturing the garden as we need to nurture our mental health.”

Along with these themes, future activities for the sessions will include testing the pH of the soil in the campus garden, working with Marshall’s Dietetics program, visiting Huntington’s Kitchen, creating fairy gardens and learning how to do composting, Bowes said.

“If you’re gardening, then you’re being physically active,” Bowes said. “If you’re gardening, you’re actually nurturing something … You’re able to enjoy the benefit of what you grow by consuming it, and so that puts you in a position to be more knowledgeable about what it is you’re consuming and what you’re putting in your body in order to make healthier choices for yourself. So, all of that together brings a sense of health.”

Upcoming events for Gro Garden Therapy will be on March 23 and 30, April 6, 13, 20 and 27.

The sessions will take place primarily at the Marshall Science Building Greenhouse and are open to Marshall students, who can register for the sessions until the group is full, Bowes said.

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