It turns out that the saying “don’t be afraid to get your hands dirty” should be taken very literally.

Research published in Neuroscience has demonstrated that a specific soil bacterium, Mycobacterium vaccae may be able to alleviate depression. More recent research presented at the General Meeting of the American Society for Microbiology indicates that it may also increase your capacity to learn.

M. vaccae has been shown to mirror the effect of drugs like Prozac and is thought to stimulate serotonin production. Mice exposed to the bacteria were able to negotiate through a maze twice as fast as those in a control group. Could it really be true that getting outside and getting our hands dirty will make us happier and smarter?

Humans can be exposed to M. vaccae by simply taking a few deep breaths while out for a walk in a natural area or by eating foods like lettuce right from your garden. Farmers, gardeners and rural landowners would have many occasions to “ingest” the bacteria and are lucky to have their hands regularly in the dirt.

The secret world of soil is fascinating and clearly benefits us beyond what we’ve commonly understood. At its simplest, we depend on healthy soil for our food and perhaps at its most complex we depend on it for our wellbeing. It’s important that we understand soil and care for and protect it as best we can.

Join CVC on April 11 for Unearthing Soil Health – A Workshop for Small-Scale Farmers (but all are welcome) at Whole Village in Caledon (see below).

Upcoming Events

CVC Nursery Stock Direct Sale Day

Saturday May 2, CVC’s Forestry Operations Centre, 15526 Heart Lake Road, Caledon

Minimum order of 20 units of potted stock or 100 units of bare root seedlings. Pre-ordering required. Contact Brian Boyd at [email protected] for more information.

Natural Pond Management Workshop – Cost $15

Saturday, May 9, 9 a.m. to 12 p.m., Watershed Learning Centre, Terra Cotta Conservation Area. Register online by May 7.

Learn the fundamentals of natural pond management from CVC’s pond and aquatic specialists. Discover how to improve your water quality, enhance wildlife habitat and improve the health of your pond through professional instruction, case studies and a guided tour of the Award Winning Wetland and Wolf Lake bypass projects at Terra Cotta Conservation Area.

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