Gardening Just Became Essential

I have a confession to make. After almost a decade of gleefully working the garden in the spring, only to be disappointed in the fall when the garden was overrun with weeds I’d been unable to conquer, I didn’t garden last year. My life was busy. I have four wonderful children, a wife that’s back in school to get her M.D., a few side hustles (one is the wonderful Mad Goat Coffee and you should try it), and hobbies that are important to me. There wasn’t room anymore for gardening, an activity that I truly love but had always been a source of guilt. It seemed so unnecessary, in normal times, to toil in the garden when we could just head to the co-op and get fresh local produce. Plus, I’m not very good at it anyway. I let it go and it was like a massive weight lifted off my shoulders. It felt good.

So good, in fact, I wasn’t going to garden this year either.

That’s right. I work at Greenhouse Megastore, one of the Internet’s top independent retailers for greenhouses and garden supplies for growers of all sizes, I’m the new Marketing Director, and I was not going to garden in 2020. Am I a fraud for that? Maybe.

What we’re experiencing is a global experiment in forced introversion and there is no guarantee how it will turn out.

That was all before the coronavirus pandemic gripped the world. At this point it seems like a completely different time, an alternate universe. The world came grinding to a halt, or at least, it felt like it. The global pandemic that we have been warned about for years and years and years was finally here. Armageddon and the apocalypse all rolled into one and it was named COVID-19. This is not a drill, folks.

I, and apparently many others, immediately recognized the need to begin planning my garden. Mental health surely will become an issue in the coming weeks and months, and it’s long been known that working the soil is a way to fight depression and other mental illness. Supply chains are already coming under enormous pressure, migrant worker visas are being threatened, borders are being closed, and people are being locked inside their homes for undetermined amounts of time. What we’re experiencing is a global experiment in forced introversion and there is no guarantee how it will turn out. Even if food security doesn’t become an issue, going to a grocery store during the height of a pandemic will definitely become a risky venture. Having food in the ground helps reduce the number of those trips, and by extension, the number of infected people.

Having food in the ground helps reduce the number of trips to the store, and by extension, the number of infected people. #flattenthecurve #covictorygarden

Looking at it like this, slowly over the past few days, the importance of what we do at Greenhouse Megastore (and many other places like us) is sinking in. Suddenly, we’re not just one more place to get supplies for your new or existing garden. With Amazon and other large online retailers drastically shifting their focus to essential supplies, our little store has become a lifeline for anyone stuck at home and wanting to get essential supplies for their garden or grow. That sense of responsibility escapes none of us here, I can assure you.

Why Gardening Now?

Luckily, it’s perfect timing to get started on my spring garden, albeit not without some work. Turns out, I’m going to have quite a bit of time at home over the next several weeks so I think finally I might be able to manage it.

Gardening improves mental and physical health, and can provide fresh food to you or someone else who might need it.
Photo credit: ___ at Pexels.com

With the time I now have available to me, I’ll be posting regularly on my gardening journey this year. It may end in a weedy, unkempt disaster (as it always does), but maybe this year I can find solidarity with the millions of other gardeners around the country and the world that are struggling through the same things. The gardening community has always been tight-knit and helpful, but never before has there been as much purpose injected into the community as right now. Let’s capitalize on it, and hopefully when we emerge on the other side of this pandemic and we’ll have laid the groundwork for a closer, fresher, healthier food supply chain than we’ve ever had before.

Quite simply, we don’t know the devastation that COVID-19 will bring. We know what’s possible though. I think to most of us, the upper limits of what’s possible in this thing are not a cost we want to pay. I urge each and every one of you to join me this year. Make this your best garden year ever. Make it your first. Just do it! For yourself, for your neighbors and community. For strangers across town and across the country that you might never meet. Do it for all of us.

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