Garden produces ‘growth mindset’

  • Published
  • By 2nd Lt. Benjamin Aronson
  • 15th Wing Public Affairs

During COVID-19, many people picked up new ways to pass the time, such as gardening. 

The 15th Medical Group Health Promotion unit planted a garden to educate and promote health and wellness to Airmen during and after COVID-19. 

“It’s a way for a person to deal with what’s going on right now,” said Arletta Thompson, 15th MDG Health Promotion coordinator. “There are a lot of pandemic gardens growing and resources to help are everywhere.”

Thompson and Maj. Kevin Watanabe, 673d Medical Support Squadron individual mobilization augmentee to Pacific Air Force nutrition consultant, came up with the idea for a vegetable garden. However, the toxicity of the soil here from the attacks on Dec. 7, prevents anyone from planting produce in the ground. After searching around, the Sexual Assault Prevention Response Office donated their two planters to the cause. 

“Studies have shown that even short bouts of gardening can have significant positive effects on perceived stress and depression,” said Watanabe. “Gardening has also been shown to foster a ‘growth mindset,’ where individuals begin to look toward self-improvement and persevere in the face of adversity. That is huge for resiliency.”

Physical health benefits from fresh fruits and vegetables include higher levels of vitamins, minerals, and phytochemicals, which can improve Airmen’s weight. Fresh produce can help decrease the risk of chronic diseases and cancers.

Health Promotion hopes to inspire other squadrons to construct and grow their own vegetable gardens to benefit their Airmen. 

“A lot of people look at it and think it’s just a garden, but it is more than that,” said Thompson.

Thompson believes the garden can be used by squadrons to promote healthy eating practices among its members and help any families affected by food insecurity as a result of COVID-19 eliminating second sources of income. 

Additionally, just as a simple garden brought members from the 15th MDG, SAPR, and Aloha Spark together, it may also bring other squadrons together. 

To learn more about the vegetable garden and how to plant one, contact Ms. Arlette Thompson at