"When you feel depressed or sad, try growing vegetables. It will definitely bring you happiness."
“To me, growing vegetables at home is like a condiment for my busy urban life. It’s an effective and practical psychological healing process.”
“It gives me energy. I feel delighted, rewarded and healed when I see them green and lively. It requires patience, from sowing to growing to harvesting. Life is dull and dead without growing vegetables. This is kind of an obsession of mine.”
“It’s quite decompressing. Every day after work I have this place where I can think about nothing but my food. It makes me so happy to look at the greens, sunset, and afterglow.”
"Many young Chinese people are choosing to live in the city because there are more job opportunities and better living conditions. According to a report in 2020, 20% of recent college graduates choose to work in first-tier cities, like Beijing, Shanghai, Shenzhen, and Guangzhou, with 68% of them migrating from other parts of the country. China’s urban population has increased about 35% in the past decade from nearly 670 million to 902 million.
But deep down, many young Chinese people still dream of a life in the countryside. As such, they build a vegetable garden in their apartment to balance out the stress of work and their personal lives. The presence of vegetables and plants also works to spark inspiration as many young gardeners share visuals of their gardening process on social media, where small communities of growers have sprouted.
The hashtag “I’m growing vegetables on the balcony” has gotten over 8.6 million views on Chinese social media platform Douban where many are sharing tips on how to take care of their vegetables. Comments on the site include the observation that, “a day of making slides and spreadsheets at work is less productive than growing vegetables at home.”
Organic Food Just Tastes Different
Jiang Danfeng insisted on finding an apartment with a balcony when she relocated to Guangzhou for her new job as an accountant two years ago.
“How boring my life would be if I couldn’t do this one thing that I love the most?” Jiang says.
However, all of the vegetables and fruits she grew this year died in the southern city’s hot weather. Jiang planted them the same way that she used to when she lived in her hometown Chengdu, but the weather in the two cities is very different. She pulled out all the dead plants and switched to growing flowers as a new experiment.
Jiang, 27, says the gardening process has brought her so much joy and makes her even more determined to return to the countryside in the future. Her favorite thing is to get up early and check how much her plants have grown overnight. She calls her balcony garden her “spiritual home.”
Even though her house gets crowded with plants, two cats, and a boyfriend, Hu is always trying to squeeze more greenery into her first-floor apartment. That means there are window boxes everywhere and there are LED pillar lights in the living room.
While gardening is exciting for young adults but might be even more fun for little kids. For people who have children, gardening can be a great family activity.
Yuan Qian, a mother of two, recently set up an aquatic planting system at home. She and her two-and-a-half-year-old son grow vegetables and observe their growth together. And for Yuan, this labor successfully makes her son interested in leaf vegetables.
“I get excited every spring, just like a dormant plant that has woken up,” says Wang, referring to her enthusiasm about gardening. “It’s really a rewarding experience, knowing that you can easily harvest a variety of fruits and vegetables, even in a small space.”
t is not always successful though. The watermelon Wang planted last year exploded when it grew to the size of a fist. She says a sudden change in temperature triggered the explosion, but actually made the watermelon taste superior.
Wang says she often gets anxious at work, but she tries to slow down in her personal life, by taking on hobbies such as gardening, which has helped relieve her anxiety.
“I think growing vegetables is like drinking tea. It gradually cleanses you just like water washes pebbles,” Wang says. “When you feel depressed or sad, try growing vegetables. It will definitely bring you happiness.”
Zhang echoes what Wang says. She likes to sit on her balcony after work, just to look at the plants. Whether they’re old, dead, or dry, she feels a sense of fulfillment.
Zhang says she plants climbing vegetables every year to make the best of her balcony railings. Some of those plants include hyacinth beans, Chinese yam, and golden-and-silver honeysuckle. She says she doesn’t care much if they bear fruit or bloom. It’s good enough to just have them around.
“As long as they are growing, it is all part of the joy of planting vegetables,” Zhang says.
Note: The spiritual dimensions of gardening given below are drawn from the "alphabet for spiritual literacy" developed by one of the world's leading interfaith organizations, Spirituality and Practice. Click here for their website.
谢邦秀译 Today, many people who are interested in helping to create a better world and in finding nourishment for daily life turn to backyard and community gardening. They sense that there is a spiritual side to gardening, as well as a hands-on side and an intellectual side. Gardening is a holistic process, involving head, hands, and heart.
现今，许多志趣在于帮助创造一个更美好的世界、为日常生活寻求滋养的人在转向自家后院及社区园艺。他们觉得园艺不仅有其动手的和智力的一面，也有其精神的一面。园艺是一个需要人身心灵全方位参与的过程，需要人动脑、动手、用心。 The questions below encourage gardeners to explore the spiritual dimensions of the gardening process. In the context of process philosophy, these qualities are what we mean by "richness of experience" in daily life. Many of us understand "richness of experience" or "the enjoyment of being alive" as the heart of spirituality.
下面这些问题鼓励园艺师们去探究园艺过程的精神层面。在过程哲学的语境中，我们称这些品质为日常生活之“经验的丰富性”。我们中的许多人把“经验的丰富性”或“活着的乐趣”理解为精神的核心。 By reflecting on these aspects, gardeners can deepen our connection with the living Earth, ourselves, and the broader universe. We can partake of that healing that is sorely needed in our time, and be in community with others who do the same. Focus on any questions that are important to you, and share the questions with others. We hope to help build an international home gardening community, in which we share with one another. 通过思考这些方面，园艺师们可以更深入地理解我们与承载生命的地球、与我们自己以及与更广阔的宇宙之间的联系。我们可以与其他同道一起参与到这个时代迫切需要的自然疗愈中去。关注任何在你看来重要的问题，并与他人分享这些问题。我们希望帮助构建一个国际家庭园艺共同体，在其中，我们可以彼此分享。
How does the act of tending to my garden allow me to cultivate a sense of mindfulness and focused attention?
打理我家花园的行为如何能让我养成专注心、集中注意力？ What details in my garden often go unnoticed? How can I enhance my awareness of them?
How does the beauty I create or witness in my garden reflect the beauty within myself and the world around me?
我在我家花园里创造或见证的美可以如何反映我自己以及周围世界的美？ In what ways can I intentionally design my garden to evoke a sense of aesthetic appreciation and inspiration?
我可以用什么方式有意识地设计我家花园来唤起审美欣赏意识、启发灵感？ Being Present在场
How does gardening help me let go of past concerns and future worries, allowing me to fully embrace the present moment?
园艺活动如何可以帮助我放下对过去和未来的忧虑，完全活在当下？ What techniques can I employ to ground myself in the "here and now" while working in my garden?
How can my gardening practices reflect a sense of care and compassion for all living beings, including plants, insects, and the ecosystem as a whole?
我从事的园艺实践活动如何可以反映出我对包括植物、昆虫和整个生态系统的所有生物的关怀与共情？ How do acts of kindness toward my garden translate into a more compassionate approach to life in general?
What connections do I observe between the growth and interdependence of plants in my garden and the interconnectedness of all life?
我观察到我家花园里植物的生长及相互依存与所有生命的相互关联之间有什么关联？ How can I foster a greater sense of connection between my garden and the larger natural world?
How does my commitment to nurturing my garden reflect the idea of devotion and dedication in my own spiritual journey?
我对打理我家花园的投入如何可以反映我自己关于精神旅程的投入与奉献观？ What rituals or practices can I establish to honor the time and effort I invest in my garden?
我可以用什么仪式或实践活动来纪念我打理花园所投入的时间和精力？ Enthusiasm热情 How does my enthusiasm for gardening mirror my enthusiasm for personal growth and spiritual exploration?
我对园艺活动的热情如何可以反映我对个人成长和精神探索的热情？ How can I infuse my gardening routine with a sense of joy and excitement?
How does the process of planting seeds and nurturing plants reflect the concept of having faith in the unseen and the potential for growth?
播种和培育植物的过程如何可以反映出对看不见的、潜在的成长的信心？ What moments in my gardening journey challenge me to trust in the natural cycles of life and transformation?
在我打理园艺的旅程中哪些时刻会挑战我对自然循环中生命与转化的信心？ Forgiveness宽恕 How can my experiences in dealing with setbacks or mistakes in my garden serve as opportunities for practicing forgiveness and self-compassion?
在打理花园的活动中应对挫折或错误的经验如何可以成为践行宽恕和自我关怀的机会? What lessons can I learn from the process of letting go and allowing new growth to emerge?
我从放手、允许新的成长发生的过程中可以学到什么？ Grace优雅 In what ways do unexpected moments of beauty, balance, and harmony in my garden remind me of the presence of grace in my life?
我家花园里那些意想不到的美、平衡与和谐的瞬间可以如何唤醒我生命中优雅的存在？ How can I create spaces within my garden that embody a sense of elegance and gracefulness?
How can I cultivate a sense of gratitude for the abundance and beauty that my garden provides?
我怎样才能培养出对我家花园可能展现的繁荣与美的感恩之心？ What moments in my gardening journey evoke feelings of thankfulness and appreciation?
How does the act of planting seeds and nurturing plants reflect my belief in the potential for growth and transformation?
播种和培育植物的行为如何可以反映我对成长与转化的潜在可能性的信心？ What aspects of my gardening process give me a sense of hope for the future?
How can my garden be a space of welcome and inclusivity for both visitors and the natural world?
我家花园如何可以成为一个欢迎、包容来客以及自然界的所在？ In what ways does my garden mirror the concept of creating a warm and inviting atmosphere in my life?
How does my creativity come into play when designing and envisioning my garden space?
我的创造性如何可以在设计和想象花园的空间布局时发挥作用？ What imaginative elements can I introduce to my garden to make it a reflection of my inner world?
How do moments of delight and pleasure in my garden connect to my own sense of inner joy and contentment?
打理花园的乐趣和愉悦如何可以与我内心的快乐和满足感相关联？ What activities or practices can I incorporate into my gardening routine to enhance my experience of joy?
我可以把什么活动纳入日常园艺工作中来增强愉快体验？ Justice公平 How can my gardening practices contribute to environmental sustainability and the well-being of the ecosystem?
我的园艺实践活动如何可以有助于环境的可持续性和生态系统的福祉？ What choices can I make in my garden that align with principles of fairness, equity, and ethical treatment?
我在园艺活动中能做出什么符合公平、公正、环保原则的选择？ Kindness善良 How do acts of kindness toward my garden and its inhabitants reflect my capacity for kindness in my daily interactions?
善待花园及其中栖息者的行为如何可以反映我在日常交往中表达善意的能力？ What gestures of care can I extend to my garden that mirror my intentions to be kind and compassionate?
How does taking the time to observe and listen to the rhythms of my garden enhance my ability to be attentive in other areas of my life?
花时间观察和倾听我家花园里的韵律如何可以提高我关注生活中其他方面的能力？ What messages or insights can I glean from truly tuning in to the sounds and sensations of my garden space?
How does the love and care I invest in my garden resonate with my broader capacity to love and connect with others?
我投入到我家花园的爱和关怀如何可以与我更宽广的爱他者、关联他者的能力产生共鸣？ How can my garden become a symbol of love and nurturing, both for myself and for the environment?
What deeper meanings or insights do I find within the processes and cycles of growth and decay in my garden?
在我家花园里的生、长、衰、败循环过程中，我可以发现什么更深的意义或见解？ How can I intentionally infuse my gardening activities with a sense of purpose and significance?
我怎样能够有意识地在园艺活动中注入目的感和意义感？ Nurturing养育 How does the act of nurturing plants align with my own desire to care for and support the growth of others?
培育植物的行为如何可以与我想要关心、支持他者成长的愿望达成一致？ What parallels exist between the way I tend to my garden and the way I provide care in my personal relationships?
In what ways can my garden serve as a metaphor for embracing change, new experiences, and the unknown?
我家花园在哪些方面可以作为我欣然接受变化、新经验和未知的隐喻？ How can I create a garden environment that encourages openness and exploration?
我如何能够创造一种鼓励开放、探索的花园环境？ Peace平和/安宁 How does spending time in my garden contribute to a sense of inner calm and tranquility?
花时间打理我家花园如何可以助我获得内心的平静与安宁？ What elements or practices in my garden space promote feelings of serenity and peace?
How can my gardening activities incorporate an element of playfulness and creative expression?
我如何能在园艺活动中将玩乐与创意的元素整合起来？ In what ways does play within my garden space reflect my desire to maintain a sense of childlike wonder?
在我家花园里玩园艺如何可以反映出我想要保持孩子般好奇的愿望？ Questing探求 How does my gardening journey parallel my own quest for self-discovery, growth, and spiritual understanding?
我打理园艺的旅程如何可以与我自己对自我发现、成长、精神理解的探求并行不悖？ What aspirations and goals can I set for my garden that align with my broader life journey?
How can I approach my garden with a sense of reverence and respect for the life and beauty it holds?
我怎样才能对我家花园充满敬意，尊重它所蕴含的生命和美？ In what ways does tending to my garden allow me to connect with a deeper sense of the sacred?
How does acknowledging the challenges and difficulties in my garden mirror my willingness to confront and embrace the shadows within myself?
承认打理我家花园过程中的挑战和困难如何可以反映出我愿意面对和接受我自己内心的阴暗？ What lessons can I learn from the coexistence of light and shadow in my garden space?
How can spending time in my garden help me appreciate the value of silence and stillness in my spiritual practice?
花时间打理我家花园如何能帮助我欣赏我精神修行中静与止的价值？ What insights or revelations arise when I engage with the quiet moments within my garden?
What wisdom and lessons do I learn from observing the natural cycles and interactions within my garden?
我从观察我家花园里动植物的自然循环和互动中可以学到什么智慧和经验？ How can I view the plants and creatures in my garden as teachers, offering insights into resilience and adaptation?
我如何能够以我家花园里的动植物为师，了解韧性和适应性？ Transformation转化 How do the processes of growth, change, and renewal in my garden resonate with my own journey of personal transformation?
我家花园里的生长、变化、更新过程如何可以与我自己的个人转化旅程产生共鸣？ What areas of my life can I transform with the same intentionality and nurturing care I apply to my garden?
In what ways does the interconnectedness of the various elements in my garden reflect the broader sense of unity in the universe?
我家花园中各种元素的互联性可以以什么方式反映宇宙中更广泛的统一性？ How can my gardening practices remind me of the inherent interconnectedness of all life?
How does my vision for my garden space mirror my broader vision for my life and the world around me?
我对我家花园空间的构想如何可以反映我对自己的人生以及周围世界的更广阔的愿景？ What steps can I take to align my gardening aspirations with my larger dreams and aspirations?
我可以采取什么措施来使我打理花园的构想与我更大的梦想和愿望相一致？ Wonder奇迹/奇观 How can I cultivate a sense of wonder and awe in my garden, allowing it to become a source of inspiration and curiosity?
我如何可以在我家花园中培养惊奇和敬畏感，使之成为灵感和好奇心的源泉？ What aspects of my garden space fill me with wonder and remind me of the extraordinary in the ordinary?
我家花园里的哪些方面让我感到惊奇，可以让我想到平凡中之非凡？ X, the Mystery X，谜/神秘/未知
How can I embrace the mystery and unknown in my garden, recognizing that not everything can be fully understood or controlled?
我如何可以接受我家花园里的神秘和未知，认识到并非所有的事物都能被完全理解或控制？ What moments in my gardening experience evoke a sense of reverence for the mysteries of life?
How does the act of nurturing my garden reflect my inner yearning for growth, connection, and spiritual fulfillment?
打理我家花园的行为如何可以反映我内心对成长、关联、精神满足的向往？ What desires and aspirations arise within me as I engage with the yearning that my garden represents?
How does your unique presence and energy infuse your garden with a sense of authenticity and personal connection?
你的独特存在和能量如何可以给你家花园注入真实感和人际联系？ How can you intentionally bring more of yourself into your gardening practices?
你怎样能有意识地使自己更多地投身于园艺实践活动？ Zeal热忱/热心 How does your passion and enthusiasm for gardening mirror your enthusiasm for life and the pursuit of your dreams?
你对园艺活动的热情如何可以反映你对生活、对追求梦想的热情？ What actions or projects can you undertake in your garden that embody your sense of zeal and vitality?
For more on the Spiritual Alphabet of Spirituality and Practice, click on any of the links below. And click here to learn about the organization as a whole.