KIRKSVILLE, Mo. – Looking for a way to improve your physical and mental well-being during stressful times? A University of Missouri Extension horticulturist recommends gardening as a perfect solution.

“Gardening provides many health benefits that are needed during these stressful times,” said Jennifer Schutter.

“These benefits include exercise, a boost in mental health from time spent in nature and growing your own healthy food.”

Whether you’re a new or experienced gardener, MU Extension’s horticulture field specialists are just a phone call or email away, Schutter said.

“Local horticulture specialists can assist with gardening and soil testing questions, diagnostic services and online educational opportunities,” she said.

Schutter recommends that those who manage public gardens provide handwashing stations or hand sanitizer and that gardeners wash their hands upon entering and exiting the area. To prevent the spread of COVID-19, individuals should wash their hands with soap and water for 20 seconds or use a hand sanitizer containing at least 60% alcohol.

Regularly sanitize all reusable bins, shared tools, tables and other surfaces, she said. The Environmental Protection Agency offers a list of common disinfectants used against the virus.

“The CDC recommends wearing a mask while in public places,” Schutter added. “And stay home if you are sick or have been around anyone who is sick.”

Active COVID-19 cases vary from county to county. Check with local authorities on restrictions that might apply to your community garden. Restrictions could include limiting the number of visitors or closing the garden to the public until active cases diminish, she said.

Visit for helpful gardening information and gardening-related COVID-19 resources.

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