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Photo from Shutterstock.

This article in the Washington Post about the White House having gone all “junk food to veggies” is a fun read.  Group fitness challenge!  Electronic tracking of progress toward fitness!  Apples in bowls!  I mean it – I love this stuff.

But of interest to us gardeners in particular:

National Gardening Association President Michael Metallo said his group found the rate of gardening among millennials has risen 63 percent in the past five years, and one in three U.S. households now has a food garden. “I don’t think you can look at that 63 percent and not think their message is getting through.”

The push is also credited with helping shift public attitudes about eating and contributing to the 43 percent decline in obesity rates among children ages 2 to 5 over the past decade.

I confess to being gobsmacked by these numbers.  Gardening up 63 percent?  One-third of U.S. households growing food?  (And wasn’t that 43% figure debunked?)

To answer my first devil’s-advocate question, the link provided with the Post’s story shows the quote to be misleading.  The 63% increase in gardening among millennials is for food gardening.  So considering that few of them were growing food five years ago, a 63% increase over that period is easier to believe.  I hope that continues to climb or at least that those new gardeners keep it up.

And about that National Gardening Association report saying that “35% of all U.S. households (42 million) participated in food gardening in 2013 – an overall increase of 17% in only 5 years.”  I hope it’s true, but really?

Finally, input from the world of stock photos.  Putting “young gardeners” into the Shutterstock search yielded lots of young adults with flowering annuals, and a guy moving a potted palm, then finally some shots like the one here that get with the program – young people growing food.  The caption on this photo is “Gardening in summer – happy couple harvesting and having lots of fun.”  Indeed.

Photo source: Shutterstock.


Posted by

Susan Harris
on May 2, 2014 at 7:43 am, in the category What’s Happening.


  1. Well, if the kids are starting to get more heavily into gardening, affordability of food must have a lot to do with it. I’m appalled at how much money I can drop on a trip to the store for NON-food items, let alone with a full list of items! I have no idea how families with 2 and 3 kids are doing it, given flat wages (if you’re lucky enough to have a job at all) and the fact that the price of everything seems to go up daily. Makes the price of a few seed packets and some time look like a really good investment!

  2. I am not a Millennial – I’m an older Gen Xer who is mother to some of the younger Millennials. But in my pay-job (as opposed to the things I do regularly that do not garner a paycheck), I work with a lot of these young folks. Are they into food gardening? Unequivocally YES. It is not so much to save money (though that is a great bonus). Their main reasons for growing food have to do with controlling what fuels their bodies, knowing what goes into their food, living in the culinary season, and to some degree, the science of how soil & conditions affect the plants they grow. These kids are definitely trying to get back to the soil.

  3. I hope this trend continues, because after we are done paying college tuition and get the millennials that still live at home we hope to downsize. Even yesterday when I was culling apples from the four espaliered trees that are my front fence I wondered if the edible landscaping would deter someone from purchasing this house.

  4. I’ve seen the huge interest in food growing as I travel around. It does seem to be widespread. And it does seem to be bringing many young people (who otherwise wouldn’t spend money/water/energy on a garden-for-beauty-only) into this activity.

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