Will the gardening trend continue?
Gardening made history this spring, evidenced by Burpee Seed Co. selling more seed in March than any time in their 144-year history. Johnny’s Selected Seed noted a 270% increase in normal spring sales. Stokes Seed Co. sold four times its normal quantity of gardening products.
The coronavirus set off a global gardening boom that’s been compared to the Victory Gardens of World Wars I and II, in which American and British citizens grew food to support the war effort and to feed their families. As this year’s pandemic caused localized shortages of food and fresh produce, even though temporary, more people desired to have greater control over their food supply through gardening.
More people in 2020 started or resumed gardening to have greater control over their food supply. Forum file photo
This year saw greater participation in community gardening, the rise of boulevard and vacant lot gardens, and gardens planted for the sole purpose of donating to others in need.
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Volunteers Bob Baumann and Annie Prafcke work to plant fruit trees June 18, 2020, in the Community Orchard for Growing Together Community Gardens and North Dakota State University Extension in Fargo’s Rabanus Park. Forum file photo
Better control of one’s food supply wasn’t the only reason for this year’s gardening rush. People have frequently turned to the soil in times of trouble. As COVID-19 caused a need for social distancing, gardening provided contact with something real. The smell of soil and flowers, the taste of herbs and fresh produce, and the feel of warm sunshine provided stability in an otherwise unreal world.
Attending virtual online sessions does not immerse us in reality the way gardening does. Rutgers University professor Joel Flagler described the situation well. “There are certain very stabilizing forces in gardening that can ground us when we are feeling shaky, uncertain and terrified. It’s these predictable outcomes and predictable rhythms of the garden that are very comforting right now.”
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Nursery Management Magazine’s December issue shared results of research conducted by Minneapolis-based Axiom Marketing. The survey indicated that half of those who gardened this year did so as a way to get out of the house, relieve stress, provide security and for something to do while sticking close to home. Overwhelmingly, most were also gardening to add beauty to their surroundings. Balcony gardening and houseplant popularity also surged.
The smell of soil and flowers helped provide stability in 2020 in an otherwise unreal world. Forum file photo
With increased popularity came an increased demand for gardening information and education. The University of Nebraska-Lincoln reported a 50% increase in viewership to its long-running “Backyard Farmer” gardening show. The University of Minnesota’s Master Gardener program saw double to triple the usual number of people reaching out with questions.
Closer to the Fargo area, once the spring pandemic began, my own North Dakota State University Extension-Cass County office fielded triple the number of gardening calls and …….