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Will GenY and GenX become gardeners?

Catherine Stewart

Catherine Stewart

August 21, 2013

Why don’t GenY and GenX garden? Now here’s an interesting and thought provoking post from USA blogger Genevieve Schmidt about the horticulture industry’s angst over a lack of dirt under younger fingernails.

She outlines her thoughts about the effects of home ownership, other past times, money, and having or not having kids on the gardening interest (or not) of today’s 20-45 year olds. And comes up with some worthwhile advice too.

I particularly like her comment:

“They want us to spray their products on our plants, buy flowered bifocals and aprons, strive for a ChemLawn and plant endless acres of petunias in our front yards. I’m sorry, but that’s not for us. We’re more Flora Grubb than Home Depot, and we’re questioning the lies Big Hort’s been trying to sell us all these years.”

You can read Genevieve Schmidt’s post republished at The North Coast Journal or more at her very interesting blog, North Coast Gardening. But please come back here and comment!

My thoughts are that so many of the gardening triggers she mentions are happening much later in life than they did for boomers. Marriage, home ownership and children used to be something you did in your mid-20s, now its late 30s to early 40s. And until rental agreements change to make gardening in a rented house a much more worthwhile adventure, then why would you bother?

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James Beattie
James Beattie
10 years ago

The point Genevieve makes about genY’s suspicion for being actively sold products is a good one. Their savviness when it comes to media and advertising is more attuned than the earlier generations’, leaving traditional forms of advertising far less affective on their demographic.

Genevieve’s observation that social media and constant internet access can only increase the likelihood of genY become gardeners is really sharp. Though I think access to information works against the notion that gardening is expensive, if anything it shows how cheaply it can be done.

The fact that you can log on a watch a youtube video of a person performing any number of specialist gardening tasks and learn from them is wonderful. It’s really just an extension of the conversations gardeners have with each other over the back fence, swapping tips and suggestions. Only it’s Bob in Cloncurry swapping with his neighbour, as well Steve in Nantucket and Francisco in Ecuador.

As a GenY-er myself, I get a lot out of watching other people at home grow stuff through some forms of social media – it’s tangible and not glossed over, and best of all, real!

Julie Thomson
10 years ago

I absolutely agree with Genevieve’s point about gardening being a pastime you take up when you have your own place, time and a peer or neighbour to emulate. And as you also say, Catherine, that is happening a lot later for Gen Y. eg we had bought our own home when I was 22 and my husband 28. Our kids are 31 and 28 and aren’t there yet – indeed dont even seem interested in taking the mortgage plunge and chasing the white picket dream. Travel, urban pursuits, jobs, study and single lifestyle is their reference frame.
One thing I would say to them though, is taking an interest in and knowing even a little about gardens and plants is a wonderful conversation starter for all age and social groups, for just as readers always have something interesting to say, so do people who know and recognise trees and plants. You would be surprised at where some unlikely passions flourish. I worked with a v blokey printer years ago who was crazy about his orchids and I have had some delightful chats with my mechanic about his bromeliad obsession. Love that incidental and random connection. It is what makes life rich and surprising.