Posted on 01 July 2011 by

Gardening For The Generations

By Mindy McIntosh-Shetter

Throughout my community garden project, I noticed a unique trend that I could not explain until recently.

My group consists of a majority of people who are under 30 years of age.

How wonderful I felt and still feel that the youth was getting involved in gardening.

I thought economics was a big factor and the organic food movement pushed these individuals to the community garden. But while my uneducated analysis of the situation was partly correct, it took a little research to find the “roots” of my community gardeners.

Personally, I am on the very backend of the baby-boomer generation. I was raised in an environment that I could do anything without any boundaries. For years, I have felt that I was raised this way because I was an only child but to my dismay that was not necessarily the case.

Baby-boomers were raised to think they could change the world and I suppose that explains the social dynamics as to why I started the community gardens. I am a leader that does not take “no” as an acceptable answer to making the world a better place for all.

My Generation X gardeners, on the other hand, were used to family dynamic where both parents worked and left the kids at home. This family dynamic created latchkey kids that were forced to become self-sufficient, independent, and resourceful. Children of this era were taught to value freedom and are comfortable with technology. But still have the skills to function without the computer, ipod or cell phone.

These individuals, as gardeners, can be a challenge. They claim to know how to garden but when it comes to it the skill set is not there. They require some guidance in the process of gardening but under a disguise of small talk. This allows them to keep a facade of self-sufficiency while being resourceful enough to acquire the needed information.

My Generation Y gardeners seem to be a combination of the baby boomers and Generation X. These individuals were raised under the concept of “No Person Left Behind” and values teamwork toward a common goal. They are loyal and committed to causes they believe in. But they are plugged into technology 24 hours a day 7 days a week. This aids them in their individual causes and they use their “global family” to help fight for these causes. This can be through websites they create and social media networks they have formed.

One may ponder what this has to do with gardening and I would answer everything. Each gardener enters a garden space with a unique background and knowledge base. To grow not only plant material but also ourselves in the garden, we need to learn from everyone in the garden. We need to realize that change occurs at a quicker pace compared to the precedent generation and each generation has its own unique way of passing on information. In my generation it was books and TV. Now kindles, Internet, and social media outlets carry everything you ever wanted to know about anything and anyone.

While we can learn how to garden from the “how-tos” that are produced on Youtube and other networks, the one on one, human touch is the best way for the lost skill called gardening.

So until we blog again, each generation has its pros that they bring to the “virtual garden shed.” But nothing beats the true human interaction associated with gardening and the true feel of soil beneath ones feet.

One Response to “Gardening For The Generations”

  1. tracy Says:

    I’ve always assumed that the rise in gardening comes from the timing. So many baby boomers are either retiring right now and have the leisure to garden, or reaching the age where they are the dominant force in politics. This seems to be coming up at the same time that the green movement is gaining speed, which makes me think that they may be the driving force behind it (as they have been the driving force behind most major marketing movements since they’ve been born).

    I fall into the generation X category of gardeners. I learned to garden from my Grandpa’s farm, but I don’t feel as inclined to weed when it’s 100 degrees outside, so I’ve looked into alternative means of gardening that play to my strengths. Mulching, lasagna gardening and container gardening have all worked very well for me in the past.

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