Fiann Ó Nualláin says studies have shown the myriad benefits of having plenty of green foliage indoors.
WE LIVE in busy times, early starts and long hours and very often lunch is more ‘al desko’ than alfresco and the commute is a stress dash and not a fresh air stroll.
In the process we spend our days more and more in rooms.
Even our leisure is walled in — gyms not park jogs, restaurants not picnics, the swimming pool not the ocean and our weekends are often box-setted away.
We are losing touch with nature and it’s having an impact on our health.
And while we all want a bit of peace of mind and two minutes on the mindful colouring book, not everything is solved by distraction — sometimes action is required.
So I have a challenge for you — some peas of mind. How about a bit of GIY@Work.
The people at Cully & Sully have teamed up again with GIY to bring the ‘Give Peas a Chance’ campaign to your workplace for a second year.
Last year more than 2,000 people enlisted to grow some peas at work — be it the office foyer or in a yogurt carton on the desk.
Some for the fun of it and some for the competitiveness of it — accounts versus IT, managers versus staff, hairdressers versus the hardware next door.
In fact there was a real competition behind it and the winning team Optimal Chiropractic in Cork earned a donation of €3,000 to their chosen charity — the Cork Association for Autism — and also €2,000 worth of vouchers for Ballymaloe House and Cookery School as reward for all their efforts.
This year’s campaign is just up and running a few weeks and it is not too late to sign up and join in the fun.
There are 500 free growing kits for 500 teams of growers in workplaces across Ireland. You can register at www.cullyandsully.com/ourgarden and they will post you everything you need including the pea seeds and instructions.
And again this year the winners will get the chance to donate €3,000 to their favoured charity to go towards the creation of a food garden and get Darina or Rory to show you how to make the best pea soup ever — and I mean ever — or have the dining experience of a lifetime at Ballymaloe.
So do you fancy a bit of inter-desk rivalry? Do you think this can bring lessons about teamwork and problem solving into the mix or do you just want to enjoy the sheer pleasure of getting a pea to become a shoot? Well it’s easy peasy (help me).
But it’s more than that — it’s a chance to not just explore how easy it is to grow your own food — it is a real opportunity to bring a bit of nature and well-being into the workplace.
Growing some peas can really boost your health.
In a week where warnings about smartphone blindness and the consequences of excessive screen time and insomnia are back on the radar it is worth noting that peas provide many carotenoid phytonutrients, including lutein and zeaxanthin, that prevent macular degeneration and support vision and eye health.
Green peas are little nutrition bullets packed with the array of vitamins and minerals to keep us fuelled and healthy but also with plenty of Alpha lipoic acid that apart from all of its rejuvenating properties, helps promote an energetic day and a good night’s sleep.
If you can’t wait for the pea from the pod, these phytochemicals are in the pea shoots too. And desk growing is perfect for successional pea shoots.
Peas are uniquely placed to ward off those sugary snacks and extra cups of coffee that can creep into the working week, as they help boost energy levels but also peas have a high ratio of fibre and protein in a combination that directly regulates the pace at which we digest our food and so stretch the energy/calories from lunch across the working day — no sugar spikes mean no sugar lulls later in the afternoon.
Peas are also packed with flavanols such as catechin and epicatechin that deliver all the health properties of super antioxidant green teas.
So while harvesting and eating the peas you grow will mop up all the free radicals in your body, they also clean the office air and diminish the electronic radiation from computers, printers, office machinery — the ones that dry your skin and age your face. Bold ions!
The great solution is that plants can come to our rescue.
All plants including peas have the opposite polarity to static electricity and so balance the electronic charges about the workplace (and home).
Those charges are the tiring ions that interfere with good humour, focused concentration and energy levels.
Static electricity is an enemy in the workplace as it physiologically reduces productivity and motivation.
Often it is not a hunger slump at 3pm it’s just that your body and brain is drained by all the static electricity.
Since NASA validated the scientific evidence that houseplants have the ability to be biofiltration systems in the closing decades of the twentieth century, the twenty-first century has seen a boom in plant rental and interior landscaping and for a time there was hardly a waiting room, foyer or reception without the presence of lush greenery or at least a potted plant.
The culling of the Celtic Tiger curbed that trend in many quarters and so if your office or workplace is plant-less and you want to green up then give peas a chance here too.
In any workplace setting, plants are the ambassadors of friendliness; they enable an ambience that is not controlled, robotic, confined — instead by having nature inside, the impression is created of a calm, open, homelike experience.
That is psychologically uplifting.
So apart from creating a better quality of air with less harmful ions, they state and create a caring environment.
The plant friendly workplace makes it easier to recruit new employees and new customers.
It is not just the aesthetic or psychological impressions that plants make, but how plants scientifically put a person at ease that add value to interior plantscaping.
A wigwam of peas or an office pea-off makes a great atmosphere.
With my holistic background I love the green of peas. The human eye can perceive more shades of green than of any other colour.
Green triggers a response in the sympathetic nervous system to relieve tension in the blood vessels and thus lower the blood pressure; green lowers heart rate and provides an instant feeling of rest and recovery.
Lots of research has been conducted on the restorative value of plants, notably by Stephen Kaplan and Janet Talbot, that validate the nature reflex in boosting energy, enhancing performance and balancing mood. That restorative dynamic augments clarity and motivation.
A break from the computer, work desk or machine, spent in the company of green foliage plants has a boosting effect on personal well-being and enthusiasm. Plants provide impetus. Imagine what one on the desk will do.
Plants not only voice a healthy atmosphere but also deliver one: plants produce oxygen and so improve air quality in the workplace which again reduces tiredness and boosts concentration. Interior plants also actively remove impurities from the air we breathe.
Research has shown that planted rooms will contain up to 60 percent fewer airborne moulds and bacteria than rooms that contain no plants.
Plants also absorb warmth and sound; improve humidity levels and interior convection — which all impacts on decreasing tension and stress and boosting concentration and motivation.
All the ambience creation and the bio-filtration actually helps prevent health related problems like headaches, fatigue, eye irritations, dry throat, stress and thus have a proven track record in reducing absenteeism and improving performance.
Growing plants or maintaining a plantscape in the work place also increases employee morale and pride in the workplace. Maybe its not about giving peas a chance — maybe it’s the chance peas give you.
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