Who Are The Next Generation of Gardeners?

On Tuesday, I was privileged to be part of a radio show taping with P. Allen Smith.  The show, which will air in Arkansas, as well as be available on iTunes and be available on his web site, was an informal “chat” with Smith and 12 or so members of the Connecticut Horticultural Society who had been invited.

The taping lasted almost an hour and in the process we discussed all sorts of issues from our favorite flowers, the mission and some of the programs of the Connecticut Horticultural Society, the Elizabeth Park rose garden, and other things like diseases affecting impatiens, how to make vegetable gardens beautiful as well as productive so that they are worthy of being “front yard” gardens, and of course, the topic of this post, who are the next generation of gardeners, what are they interested in, and how do we “cultivate” them (no pun intended).

The general consensus in the room was that the younger gardeners (defined loosely as folks under 40) were primarily interested in vegetable or edible gardens at this point.  This also led to a side discussion of raising chickens and Allen’s heritage poultry program as a way to engage younger gardeners.  (You can find out more about that here–it’s fascinating.)

There was also a discussion of the ways that gardeners became interested in gardening in general–and how sometimes an interest in one thing, and growing one thing well led to a lifelong interest in gardening in general.  That was the hope of all of us in the room–that as these younger gardeners grow edibles and succeed, they will then become more interested in other types of gardening (and not see it as frivolous).

One of the other participants, another garden writer and speaker like me, said that she noticed that at her lectures on gardening for birds she was getting younger folks.  She said that she thought younger gardeners were interested in gardening in conjunction with nature–which makes a lot of sense.

Allen Smith is in town for an event at the Mark Twain House, jointly sponsored by the Mark Twain House and the Connecticut Horticultural Society.  He will be filming the Mark Twain house for one of  his PBS shows.

The event, called The Garden Home in All Seasons, also features two other speakers, a variety of exhibitors, and raffles. More information about the program, and tickets, can be obtained by calling the Mark Twain House at 860 280-3130 or by visiting here (scroll about halfway down the page).

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