HOW many Millennials have taken up Gardening?

HOW many Millennials have taken up Gardening?
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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.


    • Susan
    • 3rd September 2015

    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!

    • Laura Bell
    • 30th August 2016

    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.

    • admin
    • 26th September 2016

    So where ARE you?

    • Chris
    • 7th October 2016

    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.

    • Evelyn Hadden
    • 1st December 2016

    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.

    • Chris
    • 6th December 2016

    Thanks. Though if they don’t take care of it, the other neighbors will have words when the Chinese wisteria starts taking the siding off their garage. Fortunately it is easy to prune, and lovely to look at (in bloom now!).

    • Chris
    • 8th December 2016

    “Chris, your garden has an advantage over your neighbor’s in that the plants will reward the next homeowner’s care with (beautiful!) food, rather than just beautiful flowers.”

    • Jennie Erwin
    • 9th December 2016

    I’m a millennial. One of the older ones, with 2 kids.
    I’m gardening close to 1000 ft square this year. This will be my 10th year of gardening.
    It’s partially a food cost thing, we’re a one income family right now, hubby is having a hard time finding work. So we grow a ton of veggies to try and offset the cost of food.
    It’s partially a money making thing, if I grow enough, I can sell the excess, as organic food is in high demand.
    It’s partially a disgust with the processed food that has become so rampant.
    We live in Iowa, so we’re very aware of where high fructose corn syrup comes from and the degradation to the environment that monocropping contributes too.
    Plus, I’m not interested in joining the ranks of the obese, or having my children contribute to those statistics. Hoeing weeds and hauling compost get me lots of exercise. The boys love digging in the dirt and eating things straight out of the garden. It’s a win-win in my book, and times are too hard not to take advantage of the win-win’s.

    • admin
    • 9th December 2016

    I’m a Millennial who lives on a street in suburbia lined with other millennials. We’re growing our own veggies! Or, we are encouraging each other to start gardens!! (or maybe it’s just me giving that gentle shove =)

    • Jen
    • 9th December 2016

    I think I’m technically a Millennial, but on the older end. I took up gardening about four years ago, partly because it was relevant to my research, and partly because I always wanted to. I’d have started sooner, but didn’t have access to outdoor space.

    • Graziella Grech
    • 9th December 2016

    Hi there,

    • Peggy
    • 9th December 2016

    It is great that they are interested in edible gardening but I think they will need to learn “all over again” — they may not have information that was handed down from generation to generation. On the other hand, they may learn differently, like via Internet. That is why we need to encourage and educate them and let them know how they will be able to fit gardening in when life gets so busy and they start to have kids.
    Chris, I have an edible garden and I am hoping it will add value to the house if I tell them what the plants are and how to grow/use them. I have documented all of my plants in a word file for such a time.

    • Carolyn
    • 10th December 2016

    so true that the knowledge has gone away! I was lucky enough to grow up in a gardening family, but I see a lot of people struggle with growing things because they didn’t learn from their parents. No wonder the garden department at the big box stores are full of people buying mulch and bags of pesticides…they really don’t know how to do anything else.

    • ProfessorRoush
    • 10th December 2016

    Abraham Lincoln once said that 87% of all statistics are just made up.

    • Lena
    • 10th December 2016

    Susan, this trend is true! I teach at a college and I would say that a majority of students I meat deeply care about food, where it comes from, how it is made, and what they eat. Many don’t have a place to grow anything, but they want to. Some are working a student’s organic garden where they have their small own plots.

    • Tom
    • 10th December 2016

    I think there is a trend to try and grow your own food amongst all age groups, as the concerns over food quality and security rise. This is only to be encouraged although speaking as a grower with a good sized garden it is hard to fully feed yourself off what you grow – it’s fine when things are in season but we still get a taste for things like strawberries and other fruit out of season.

    • Carolyn
    • 10th December 2016

    I work in a software company with Gen X’ers and Millennial, and while I see some interest in gardening from my coworkers, I would say I get more blank stares than nods of agreement when I talk plants. Maybe it’s not hard for gardening to go up 63% and still encompass a very small minority of people.

    • Dave
    • 10th December 2016

    Almost no one of any age grows food here. The numbers could double if one other person started a garden!

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