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Food Quality and Exercise Among Top Ten Reasons to Garden

Posted to the blog at www.friendsofthegarden.org April 25, 2010

Food Quality and Exercise Among Top Ten Reasons to Garden

The top two reasons people garden in southwest Missouri are to raise safe and healthy food and to get some outdoor exercise.

Master Gardeners in Greene County were polled in 2000 about their top reasons for gardening.

According to Patrick Byers, a horticulture specialist with University of Missouri Extension, gardening is one of the most popular hobbies in the nation and the top reasons for doing it have remained basically the same over the past 10 years.

“Consumers are aware of additives and preservatives found in processed foods. An easy solution to these concerns is to grow your own fruits and vegetables,” said Byers.

Shelley Vaugine, a member of the Master Gardeners of Greene County and a resident of Springfield, says she considers gardening is both a community and personal project. “I garden in order to feed my family and neighbors good healthy food grown organically and to have my hands in dirt,” said Vaugine.

Exercise is the second most common reason for gardening. An hour of moderate gardening can burn close to 400 calories and best of all, it is free exercise.

In the 2000 poll, gardening for beauty ranked number three. A garden can enhance any outdoor setting, provide color and increase the value of any home.

For Mitsya Marsupial, a resident of Springfield, gardening is magical. “I think it's the last bit of magic that we get to keep as we grow up! I love the thrill of seeing my little green shoots for the first time, almost as much as I love feasting on my harvest,” said Marsupial.

Gardening in order to learn new things ranked fourth in the survey. “Gardeners are always learning, giving advice or reading about how to solve gardening problems,” said Byers.

Leah O'Neill Backus of Springfield is trying gardening for the first time this year.

“I decided to do it because it seems like an important life skill and because I've always wanted to experience the same joy and accomplishment my grandpa had in his garden,” said Backus.

Other top reasons for gardening include gardening to make money, the opportunity it provides to meet people, an outlook for creativity, gardening for competition (like garden shows, 4-H, etc.), gardening to fulfill emotional needs and gardening to make lasting memories.

Teri Leigh Baird, a resident of Springfield, has her own three top reasons for gardening.

“Number one is to grow fresh, wholesome food. But, I also garden because watching a plant grow is more interesting than watching paint dry. Plants are also interesting and beautiful in their variety,” said Baird.

No matter the reason, Byers encourages people to get out and garden. “Turn off the television and put down that electronic gadget. Don't tell yourself you don't have the time. Find the time and enjoy,” said Byers.

The Top 10 Reasons to Garden

1. To raise safe and healthy food

2. Use gardening for exercise (both cardio and aerobic)

3. Gardening for beauty (can enhance any outdoor setting).

4. Gardening to learn (which is a focus of Master Gardeners).

5. Gardening to make money (selling at shows, farmer’s markets, etc.).

6. Gardening to meet people (especially in an active group like Master Gardeners).

7. Gardening provides an outlet for creative and artistic expression.

8. Gardening for competition.

9. Gardening to fulfill an emotional need.

10. Lasting memories that can be shared with children and grandchildren.

Questions or comments contact:
Patrick Byers, horticulture specialist

Headquartered in Greene County
Tel: (417) 862-9284
E-mail: byerspl@missouri.edu

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