Stop & Smell the Roses – Enjoy one of life’s beautiful treasures

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Warm breeze, sweet smells, bright colors. Soft grass underfoot as step-by-step you make your way through. You stop and inhale slowly, pulling the wonderful scents that Mother Earth has to offer into your lungs. Looking around the sunlight-filled grounds, you wonder what we would do without the beautiful and nutritious happy places we call gardens.

If you feel this way, ing Magazine invites you to celebrate National Garden Month this April. Take a look around and appreciate all the goodness that gardening gives us, whether you personally garden or just enjoy the products of it. What’s even better is community gardening, where people in the area help keep gardens running while forming bonds with one another.

Poppin’ Fresh Gardens and Hunter Park GardenHouse are just a couple of the community gardens in the East Lansing/Lansing area. They welcome community involvement and thrive from the help of people in the surrounding area.

“This work is very important to people and communities because food should be [grown] where the people live,” said Patti Akley, urban farmer and gardener at Poppin’ Fresh Gardens.

You don’t have to have the greenest of thumbs to garden. Akley gave some easy tips for getting started. “Anyone looking to start gardening should just jump right in,” Akley said. “I’d suggest volunteering at a local urban farm, or with someone who has some experience, or just start digging in!”

You can only benefit from gardening; spending time outside and growing your own food are just a couple of the perks. In addition to that, having a garden in your backyard or nearby is like having medicine in your cabinet. Many natural plants can be used to treat sickness.

“I’ve enjoyed a spark of remembering I see in people’s faces when I ask them what they might do for an upset stomach,” Akley said. “Usually, Tums or Pepto are mentioned. Then I ask, do you remember what our grandmothers would have done? I ask if she grew mint in her yard. ‘Ahhh, yes!’”

Akley talked about how many people sometimes forget that food can be used as medicine. She says that her favorite parts of gardening are “playing in the dirt, harvesting, and interacting with and teaching people about how rewarding gardening can be.”

In addition to using plants as medicine, you can also use herbs you grow to add flavor to some of your favorite dishes. “Herb baskets should be made of herbs that you’ll use and LOVE,” Akley said. “Remember that the needs of plants that are placed together in a pot should have similar needs for sunlight, water and food.”

Other than that, herb baskets are simple to make because you only add what you like. For more guidance on making your herb basket, check out Home Depot’s article How to Make a Hanging Herb Basket on their website at gardenclub.homedepot.com.

Now that you’ve heard ing Magazine’s spiel on National Garden Month, get started creating and loving your own!