In March 2020, the spread of COVID-19 resulted in a significant surge in personal gardening efforts. Backyards and balconies sprung up herbs, flowers, vegetables, and plants. To say the least, it was impressive how resourceful people became when finding space to install gardens and cultivate them like YouTube trained experts. As store shelves emptied and finding toilet paper was a problem we never saw coming, people began to seek ways to be independent of store-bought items that could be obtained elsewhere. Many Americans realized new independence, including planting herbs and vegetables for personal use. Initially, in response to pandemic isolation and shutdowns, gardening and spending time outdoors in nature may very well be a catalyst for the next generation of gardeners.
Gardening As a Coping Mechanism
Many believe that gardening is therapeutic in nature. It is an activity many do to relax and focus on something that is occurring naturally. In the beginning stages of COVID-19, people sought various new ways to find peace, comfort, and connection. Most found an abundance of time on their hands that needed to be filled. Mental health is something that must be nurtured, much like plants and gardens. As the pandemic spread has slowed and more people are going out again, it seems some of the passion for gardening is here to stay.
Old v New Gardeners
As mentioned, many find gardening to be a delightful type of therapy. Seasoned gardeners could give pandemic newbies some good gardening advice. Using social media and other connection apps, gardeners all over are sharing information and experiences. Since the pandemic surge, people have reported feeling a valuable and uplifting exchange of their anxiety and isolation for the fulfillment and value of gardening. Those feeling out of control with limited supplies in the stores also recognized the benefits each time something from the garden ended up on the table.
Community gardens have been effective in connecting people with similar interests as well. Gardening provides ways to socialize, relax, and connect with nature and others. It also means spending time outdoors and moving around, which are some of the best-known antidotes for depression and isolation. Due to lockdowns, people were able to spend more time tending their gardens, making modifications in placement in the sun, watering, and overall management. What was the result of this extra time? Thriving gardens and thriving gardeners! Gardening also provided those out of work or home with a house full of online students the opportunity to learn.
The gardening process stimulates the brain and has positive psychological benefits for all ages. Children at home learned about gardening by doing the activity as a family. Squeals of pride and delight filled homes as greenery broke the dirt surface. No matter how small the leaves are at first, the uncertainty of what is growing is part of the novice experience. Although seasoned gardeners might chuckle, they still appreciate the growing interest.
This is all old news for seasoned gardeners as they embrace the expansion of interest in what they have known all along is good for the body and the mind.
Refuge in Gardening
Some say gardening provides refuge and a sort of haven from life’s daily grind and problems. It is a form of escapism without any nasty habits and an focused attention on the organics in the world around us. Feeling one with nature through being a part of it and helping nature create a safe space. Gardening offers heightened joy and reassurance because of the connection to the earth and the ability to grow something from a seed. As humans realize the vital importance of what the ground offers, they embrace the process and recognize it is essential to care for our planet. This, realized through gardening, has become much more relevant since the pandemic.
Gardens are a welcome mat for other species, including squirrels, rabbits, and birds. Gardeners also get used to the visiting bees and other insects regularly. There is something quite soothing about the speedy twit of a hummingbird’s wings or the soothing sound of bees happily working. Beekeepers have made taking care of bees a way of life. Again, the draw to a natural order of things and seeing nature play out in real-time is therapeutic. Think about this. Bees have been making their own food forever. Humans are finally catching on!
Finland offers time outdoors as an alternative to prescriptions, and some doctors offer green prescriptions. Will this take off in the United States? Only time will tell. Surrounding oneself with nature’s beauty develops a deeper appreciation for the earth’s resourcefulness. The devastating pandemic forced people to slow down. However, many seized the opportunity, taking up spades and changing their environments, quite literally.