Cultivating a New Generation of Gardeners
Now, more than ever, it is critical for growers and retailers to identify and nurture budding gardeners.
A major challenge facing our industry is finding new gardeners. As baby boomers get older, many of them are not gardening to the same extent that they did in years past. Generation X is gardening less than the Boomers did and Generation Y is hardly gardening at all. So what is Generation Text going to do when it comes to gardening?
Now, more than ever, it is critical for growers and retailers to identify and nurture budding gardeners. And that is the key — getting to kids at an early age to grow a lifelong gardener.
There are many different programs sprouting up to help get kids involved with plants. One of them is the Whole Kids Foundation's School Garden Grant program.
Last month, shoppers at Whole Foods donated more than $2 million to support this program — in less than six weeks! It is part of Whole Foods' Whole Kids Foundation and its goal is to "help schools grow students' relationships with food through gardening."
The grant program (www.wholekidsfoundation.org/gardengrants) is expected to fund gardening programs at more than 1,000 schools and help produce a new generation of gardeners.
The foundation's executive director, Nona Evans, summed up the major benefits of the program very well when she said, "Gardens are such a powerful and effective tool for kids to engage in a variety of conversations about food. We encourage parents and teachers to consider the many lessons that can be taught by gardening with their children."
Another very successful program aimed at growing new gardeners is Bonnie Plants' 3rd Grade Cabbage Program (www.bonnieplants.com/CabbageProgram) that teaches kids about gardening and the importance of healthy eating. Students in third grade classrooms get to plant, grow and harvest their own basketball-sized cabbage.
Getting bitten by the gardening bug at a very early age oftentimes can produce a gardener for life. Programs like these need to continue taking root (and fast) for the healthy future of our industry.
What are you doing to help grow the next generation of gardeners? Drop me a line at [email protected] and let me know.
Last year, GPN compiled a comprehensive list of the different poinsettia events (trials, open houses, etc.) that took place in November and December. We will be doing that again this year, so if you are hosting a poinsettia trials/open house this season, drop me a line at [email protected] and let me know the details so we can post them on our website (www.gpnmag.com).