Seeds of hope: Gardening in grim times

May 8, 2020

Across the United States, Americans are buying and growing plants as a pick-me-up during the COVID-19 crisis, reported Lisa Irizarry in Newsday. The paper focused its story on Long Island, N.Y., its area of local circulation, but turned to UC Cooperative Extension emeritus advisor Rose Hayden-Smith for commentary about the trend.

Hayden-Smith is the author of "Sowing the Seeds of Victory - American Gardening Programs of World War I" and now serves as the educational technology fellow for eXtension, an organization that helps extension professionals generate a more visible and measurable local impact. Hayden-Smith said plants can have a calming effect in stressful times. Increases in gardening occurred during the 1918-19 influenza pandemic and during World Wars I and II. 

"We always turn to gardening during times of crisis in this country. The last big surge of gardening interest was during the last economic crisis," she said. 

In the current environment, people are gardening for a family activity, to grow healthy food and acquire new skills, as reflected in the rise of other home arts, such as baking.

"It's earth-friendly and connects people with nature," Hayden-Smith said. "It's restorative and a way to be physically active. It feels as if it's something we take positive action on."

By Jeannette E. Warnert
Author - Communications Specialist