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Power To Save: Gardening with native plants

The owner of a farm and health journalist from Schuylkill County has some gardening tips for your spring garden that can help your mental health and the environment.

Leah Zerbe is always staying busy. She's the owner of Potter's Farm near Pine Grove, a health journalist, and also helps lead the Pottsville Chapter of Citizens Climate Lobby - a grassroots organization that raises awareness about climate change. 

Even she started to feel the mental health effects of being isolated during the pandemic. This is where gardening came in.

"We know that mental health is a really big thing right now. People are feeling really isolated, and we know in studies that one of the best things you can do is get outside and get some vitamin D with sunshine, and getting your hands in the soil actually increases serotonin levels in your body, so it increases feel-good chemicals in your body so you can feel good and healthier," Zerbe said.

Recently, Zerbe held a webinar on the top 10 native plants you can use to start your spring garden that could not only help you but also the environment.

Pennsylvania DCNR also offers advice for native planting here.

"What we're proposing at Potter's Farm is to take a small patch of your yard that may just be grass and to change it over into a native plant garden and just see how your emotions change as birds start coming to your yard throughout the season, butterflies, some native bees may come out helping with pollination. It'll really be great for mental health," said Zerbe. "Planting native plants helps pull carbon out of the air and the atmosphere, and it stores it in the ground, where it helps stabilize the climate."

Potter's Farm in Washington Township will have some of these plants available for sale later this month.