Gardening for Good Health: Capitalizing on Traditional Wisdom

“Some of the best gyms are right outside your window.” This quote, made by John Casertano to 38 Y’s Men of Meriden on Sept. 12 at their inaugural meeting of the new year, summarized his philosophy in maintaining a healthy satisfying life, all the while serving as President and CEO of Casertano Greenhouses and Farms located in Cheshire (150 full-time employees, 265 during peak seasons).

Casertano, following graduation from college, initially pursued a career in teaching Asian Studies which included two years’ work in Thailand. During this time, he formed many friendships with local Thai farmers and was impressed that despite having little “stuff,” they uniformly led a cheerful and satisfying life while working outdoors and socializing. After returning to the family farm to work off a family debt, he progressively found that his new life of working outdoors brought him the same satisfactions and he opted to turn his career into working on and eventually managing the farm.

This philosophy continues today. Backed by a series of slides, Casertano reviewed the many ways he has found to provide a healthy and satisfying life, both for himself and for others. Some of the elements include exercise, which when occurring in a farming scenario include weeding, raking and mowing. This provides physical and mental benefits that likely outpace those received by attending a Yoga class in a gym, with repetitive pushing, kneeling and mowing; indeed, exercise helps prevent high blood pressure, diabetes and perhaps even cancer.

Being outdoors, especially with sunlight (while avoiding overexposure), leads to stress reduction, better sleeping, and mood improvement; for those confined to an indoor environment, even a window may lead to some of these advantages. Other benefits of gardening: allowing one to control their time, choosing how we use our bodies, providing escape and rest, and affording satisfaction by viewing the results of our labor (such as weeding).

And finally acceptance, the act of acknowledging that we cannot control everything, but being satisfied by what we can. The above thoughts form the core of Casertano’s philosophy on achieving a satisfying and healthy life; it has worked for him for the past 30 years in the business and he believes these principles would work for others.

For further information about the Y’s Men of Meriden, go to or call 203-238-7784.


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