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Gardening and mental health | Digging in with gardenstead Ep. 4

In this episode of Digging in with gardenstead, Katie speaks with Dr. Nate Charach, a Toronto-based psychiatrist and permaculturalist who’s growing a food forest in his urban backyard. Yep. Nate is a very interesting person. Additionally, recently he’s begun to use horticultural therapy as part of his practice, and is actively involved in developing two healing gardens in the city.

After she took us on a tour of his garden, Katie sat down to speak with Nate about the mental health benefits of gardening, and how being out in nature can help us all.

Watch the episode below, or take a listen via Spotify.

On the show, Katie and Nate chat about:

  • how Nate feels being busy can distract us from what’s important, and that he first started gardening out of a concern for long-term food security
  • how Nate has incorporated healing gardens into his psychiatry practice and how he’s developed a space for horticultural therapy in his practice
  • Nate discusses the two healing gardens he’s in the process of creating — one of which is a Miyawaki forest
  • Katie and Nate chat about community and connecting gardeners, plus touch on the power of community and ‘finding your people’
  • Nate speaks to the feeling of spirituality that can be evoked by being out in nature, and how it’s possible that the life force within nature can help us all understand that we are less in control than we think we are (and that’s a good thing)
  • Nate shares a book recommendation: Active Hope: How to Deal With the Mess We’re in Without Going Crazy
  • how a narrative termed “The Great Turning” in the book can help and that focusing on the difficulties our world faces can keep us from moving forward (plus a reference to The Lord of the Rings)
  • how listening and acknowledging his own sadness and grief helps Nate, and how he finds a sense of safety in his garden
  • Katie and Nate discuss a strategy for dealing with eco-anxiety: to deeply believe that our feelings of sadness and grief about the state of the world are valid
  • and, that the best thing we can do is listen to them and then take reasonable, personal action to make the change we seek for ourselves in the climate emergency
  • Katie recommends BBC Earth’s The Green Planet, narrated by Sir David Attenborough — and how it has helped her to feel better
  • Nate finishes by sharing that simply knowing that life will prevail, no matter what helps him a great deal

We’re grateful to Nate for the time he took to chat with us. If gardening helps you deal with life’s stresses, share a comment with us via the episode at YouTube. We’d love to hear about your experiences.

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