Let’s face it; the winter months get cold and dark and long. In Michigan, this is par for the course. We occupy a region of the U.S. that experiences the four seasons in all of its grandeur, but this comes with its costs—and those costs are mainly experienced during the winter months.

There’s no denying that the winter months get harsh, and that safety should be considered first and foremost. During inclement weather or subzero temperatures, yes, it is advisable to heat up some hot chocolate on the stove and sit down to a movie with your loved ones. However, on those “fair” weather, temperate winter days, bundle up and get outside for some nature therapy!

“Forest Bathing” Benefits

Developed in Japan in the 1980s and recently gaining interest throughout the rest of the world, “forest bathing” or “shinrin-yoku” is the practice of spending time in a forest for its medical benefits. Researchers in Japan and South Korea now have a significant body of scientifically-proven health benefits resulting from “forest bathing.” These include reduced stress and lower blood pressure, improved moods, increased focus and energy, and improved sleep to name a few.

Much of this may sound familiar, as many of us might be familiar with Seasonal Affective Disorder, or SAD—the notion that our moods are impacted during winter months because our activity levels decrease and we spend more time indoors. There is scientific evidence to support this—mainly, that our level of Vitamin D consumption, our largest source coming from the sun, decreases when daylight hours become shorter, and we spend more time indoors due to climate conditions.

We at Robin Hills Farm celebrate this concept of “forest bathing,” and we stand behind the philosophy that connecting with your natural environment enriches the human experience. To that end, our three miles of nature trails are the perfect outlet for some “nature therapy.” Our nature trail traverses the many ecological and agricultural landscapes that exist on our 129 acres. These ecological landscapes include various types of wetlands (i.e. rich tamarack swamp, prairie fen, southern shrub carr, hardwood swamp, etc.) as well as woodlands (i.e. southern dry mesic forest and remnant oak savannah). Our agricultural landscapes include an organic garden, a livestock ranch, and a trout pond.

On Sunday, December 3rd, we welcomed the City of Chelsea and surrounding communities to enjoy the Holiday Extravaganza during the Chelsea Hometown Holidays weekend. We were extremely fortunate to have the most immaculate winter’s day at 50 degrees and sunny, and we celebrated with plenty of indoor offerings, but our horse and carriage rides and guided nature trail hikes got people outside to partake in the “nature therapy” on offer that day. And it was considerably well received. We look forward to offering more opportunities like this, especially during the cold and dark and long winter months. When motivation is low and access to the outdoors is limited, we hope to provide the space and opportunity to get outdoors for a good dose of “forest bathing” nature therapy before retreating back into the comfort and confines of a warm building with hot food at our farm-to-table café, The Nest, and amazing local food and artisan products at The Marketplace.

At the moment, our nature trails are still in development. Join our mailing list to receive updates on when our nature trails will be open to the public!