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HEALTH AND WELLNESS EXPO 2024

Sustainability is an integral component of wellness as it directly influences the long-term health and balance of individuals, communities, and the planet. Embracing sustainable practices promotes a harmonious relationship between humans and their environment, ensuring that essential resources are preserved for future generations. A commitment to sustainability fosters physical well-being by reducing exposure to harmful pollutants and promoting cleaner air and water. Additionally, sustainable living supports mental and emotional wellness by encouraging a sense of purpose and connection to a greater cause—preserving the health of the planet. When individuals adopt sustainable habits, such as consuming responsibly, minimizing waste, and supporting eco-friendly initiatives, they contribute not only to their personal health but also to the well-being of the global ecosystem, creating a positive and interconnected foundation for overall wellness.

Nature and Wellness

The Middletown Green Team’s mission is: “to conserve Middletown’s shared natural resources, including land, air, water, open spaces, and vistas. By working in partnership with our schools, nonprofits, faith-based organizations, businesses, and residents, we seek to sustain natural resources and promote healthy living for generations to come. We will accomplish our goals by creating understanding in the community, promoting involvement by way of education, and addressing environmental challenges and opportunities by focusing on economic, environmental, and social sustainability.”

Living with our fellow residents in this beautiful valley surrounded by mountains, woods, fields, and streams, we on the Green Team support and promote the health benefits of and ample opportunities for spending time in nature.

Recent research has focused on measuring both the benefits of being in nature and the time needed: Two hours per week brings clear results.

The research gathered data from a 2019 study of 20,000 people* found that those who spent 2 hours a week—either in one outing or cumulatively—were substantially more likely to report good health and psychological well being than those who spend less than 2 hours/week in nature. The benefits were found across a wide range of demographics—different occupations, socioeconomic levels, ethnic groups, and levels of disabilities and illnesses.

Many other researchers are finding similar conclusions: Time in nature— whether in our backyard gardens, at a community park, by the water, or in wilder natural places—improves our well being in many ways. These include helping us to:

 

  • Reduce stress, including lowering blood pressure and stress hormone levels

  • Increase resilience

  • Increase nervous system regulation

  • Enhance immune system functioning, quickening rates of healing

  • Increase self esteem

  • Reduce anxiety

  • Improve mood, mental health, and emotional well-being

  • Improve attention

  • Increase empathy and cooperation

  • Promote awareness of and increase our sense of connection to natural spaces, leading to concern and engagement to advocate to preserve wild spaces and native plants and animals for future generations.

We hope this information encourages you to spend more time in nature, enjoying all the ways it can strengthen your well being.

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* Link to the 2019 study: Spending at least 120 minutes a week in nature is associated with good health and wellbeing. https://www.nature.com/articles/s41598-019-44097-3

We Must Protect Our Forests Scroll

This travelling scroll debuted at a countywide event for municipal and congregational Green Teams in 2023. This is its first visit to Middletown. The scroll collects viewers' responses to the prompt, "We must protect our forests because . .  "

 
We hope you will be moved to respond. And please enjoy reading what others have written.

Look at some of the things people wrote:

  • The trees protect our watersheds and we all live in and depend on the watershed.

 

  • Forests are our best way of sequestering carbon right now. Mature trees, mother trees, young trees, all sizes must be saved.

 

  • The trees and forests in my boyhood meant so much to me, and they are also my grandsons’ love. Protect them.

 

  • Trees are important for so many reasons! And they are beautiful to see! They are the reason I decided to get a degree in Forestry and I will work to advocate for trees and forests as long as I am able.

 

  • Future generations deserve a green, cool, magical woods to play in. They also deserve clean air.

 

  • Love God’s beauty - trees!

 

  • We co-exist and need each other. We take care of one another. The trees offer space for calm, connection to a greater world, connection to one another, and a legacy of hope for the future.

 

  • “Only God can make a tree” - Joyce Kilmer. It’s hard to find anything else with the functional, practical, and restorative power of trees and forests. It will be hard if not impossible when they are gone. They need our help to survive. They protect us.

Care for Our Trees

While planting native trees is important for our environment, the Green Team also encourages residents to keep and maintain healthy mature trees on their properties.

Trees provide so much more than beauty and shade. Trees can help –

  • Lower blood pressure and stress levels.

  • Improve some respiratory conditions.

  • Improve air quality.

  • Improve walkability.

  • Reduce water runoff.

  • Reduce energy costs.

  • Conserve Water.

  • Lower crime rates.

  • Control soil erosion.

  • Remove carbon from the atmosphere.

  • Increases the life of asphalt/hard surfaces.

  • Support local ecosystems.

  • Add to property values.

Learn more about the benefits of trees on your property by using this tool: https://www.itreetools.org

champions
Maryland State Champion Chinese Elm in Middletown

Did you know that we have a Maryland State Champion tree right here in Middletown?!? Nominated in 2005, the Chinese Elm is 64 feet in height and has a circumference of 172 inches! It is located in the back yard of a private property on East Main Street and although some lower branches have been trimmed away from nearby buildings, the overall crown spread is 74 feet. That’s impressive!!

Fun Fact:  Chinese Elms were originally brought to the Annapolis MD area to provide fast-growing shade trees for the large estate homes there.  The property owner for the Chinese Elm here in Middletown has no idea how this tree ended up here.

Frederick County Champion Eastern Cottonwood In Middletown

The Eastern Cottonwood, located at Middletown High School.

Fun Fact:  "E. Cottonwoods are  'keystone trees,' known to support up to 350  species of wildlife. Native people used the tree's  many healing compounds. in fact, Balm of Gilead is made from its fragrant buds. Legend has it that a little star wanted to leave the sky to be near the happy sounds of people laughing and talking. To go unnoticed, the star still hides in Cottonwood trees, as can be seen by the star-shaped center inside each twig."

69 Big Trees in Frederick County

Sources:

Try A Sit Spot

What is a Sit Spot?

A Sit Spot is a place your choose in nature to sit and observe what you notice for a period of time. Naturalists practice sit spots to observe and get a better understanding of their environment and the animals and plants that live there and track changes over time. However, everyone can benefit from a Sit Spot practice! It is a wonderful activity for the whole family. See our handout, “Nature and Wellness,” for the many benefits of spending time in nature.

Tips for Practicing a Sit Spot:

  1. Choose a place in nature. It could be your backyard, a nearby park, walking trail with benches, nature center. Make it close to your home so that you will use it regularly. Make sure the place you choose feels safe for you. You need to be able to relax and be still in your sit spot.

  2. Start small: Plan to sit for short periods of time to start—5 minutes is a good start for children. Over time, 15-20 minutes can be ideal. Have a goal to sit 2-3 times a week to start and maybe practice every day, if your schedule permits.

  3. Bring a seat or choose a spot with seating and take a seat and get comfortable. Silence your cell phone and set it aside. This is time to connect with the natural world around you.

  4. Notice your breath and feel your seat making contact with the earth. Take a look around you and notice what you see. Let your eyes land on something interesting and observe. Then, keep noticing what else you see from your sit spot.

  5. Allow your other senses to be engaged with your environment. What do you smell? What sensations do you feel on your skin (cool, warm, moist, dry)? What do you hear (leaves rustling, bird calls, insect sounds, water, wind, rain)? Is there something you want to touch (a rock, tree trunk, leaves—just be sure it is safe)? Notice if your breath has changed.

  6. Consciously tune into the patterns of nature you are observing and stay curious. It can be fun to bring a notebook or sketchbook and note or draw interesting things you notice. As you return to your sit spot over time, you can note changes in the environment.

  7. If you do this with children, take time to share what you are experiencing with each other. Allow for some quiet time for them to observe and then talk about the plants, animals, colors, smells, shapes and textures that they are noticing. Keep repeating this exercise and it can be a great learning tool. Over time, you can discuss what has changed with the seasons.

To learn more about Sit Spotting, check out these resources online: https://www.sensorytrust.org.uk/resources/activities/sit-spot

https://nature-mentor.com/sit-spot/#exercises

https://runwildmychild.com/sit-spotting-nature-meditation/

Won't You Join Us?

Let's sustain natural resources and promote healthy living for generations to come:

~ Participate in semi annual recycle events..

~ Plant trees with the team.

~ Add some native plants to your yard.

~ Tend the Town's Pollinator Garden.

~ Join team activities at town festivals.

~ Attend library Green Talks.

~ Try alternatives to  insecticides.

~ Use the town's Community Composting Bin.

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