MSU – Beal Botanical Garden has launched a bigger initiative of its wellbeing program, called “Nurture Your Roots,” this program appeared in June of 2023, as a first-year establishment towards an all-inclusive well-being program within the garden.
One of the well-being coordinators for the garden, Angelica Bajos, and her team evaluated strategies in response to last year’s emphasis on new ideas towards practicing well-being within the garden. “It’s not just for conservation or education,” she said. “A lot of people come to our space to get that sense of peace and to rest and to relax.”
The initiative, she said, is to connect people, plants, and place. “We realize that we had the plants, and we had the place, but we really need to put a bigger emphasis on people and the differences and diversity that people have as well,” said Bajos.
The garden includes eight rooting stations, such as meditation, poetry, music, and even pocket journals, in which symbolizes the program’s first ever rooting station. Multiple opportunities towards mindfulness practices stem from this to create greater diversity within members of the garden who engage and their needs. Certain materials were released sooner than expected in response to the on-campus incident that occurred on Feb. 13 last year.
Community members can use their mobile devices to scan QR codes for custom content while in the garden or can have access through the garden’s website from outside the garden as well. The practice locations are distributed throughout the garden that is easily accessible for anyone to utilize.
“Each rooting station contributes to nurturing well-being,” Bajos explained. “It’s like self-love, you have to love yourself first before you allow other people to love you and it’s kind of the same way for self-care, you have to take care of yourself before you can take care of other things.” The program places an importance on specific goals related to the engagement aspect within these stations. Some of them distribute amongst focusing on in-the-moment well-being, while others offer content that allows individuals to explore passively.
Max Helser, a fifth-year student at MSU, majoring in fishery and wildlife explains that environmental surroundings are essential to nurturing overall well-being. “There’s a lot of congruences between humans and animals, plants even that connects us in a way to health and a sense of calmness towards nature, he said.”
This year marks the beginning of the program, with Bajos and the rest of the garden team dedicated to monitoring ongoing evaluations of the rooting stations, guided by statistics that show content engagement.
“While the weather is nice, I like to come here every Monday and Wednesday between my classes while I have a two-hour break,” said MSU senior Kate Schmidt. Students, faculty, and community members are seen crossing paths with the garden daily, allowing the program to discover news ways to make opportunities more inclusive.
The garden team is in the process of figuring out what people are looking for or hoping to take away from these rooting stations, “We are hoping that our next series, which will be coming out the following year in 2024, that hopefully will be more of an encompassing and adapting to the community,” Bajos concludes.