By Cynthia Maxwell, Trend Forecasting

What comes to mind when you think of urban gardening? A garden on top of a high rise in a large city? An above-ground planter on an apartment balcony full of tomatoes and kale?  A city community garden planted by kids at a local high school?  A garden in your backyard? These are perfect examples of urban gardening, and there are many more! 

Last year's lockdown brought about big trends in all things "at home." Baking, fitness, zoom communication, home décor and renovation projects, and yes, gardening.   My good friend's father owns a plant nursery in Dallas, and he explained to me that customers cared little about the cost of the plants in the last two years. They just wanted to purchase them! 

The gardening trend has not been all pandemic-related.  There has been a steady increase in gardening retail since 2018 from upwards of 4% in revenue to almost 9% in 2020.  Consumers have become more interested in where their food comes from, how fresh it is, and of course, they want it to be organic.

More from Cynthia Maxwell: 6 Food Trends Inspired by Summer Festivals

Some growth stats from a recent National Gardening Survey provides a glimpse at the increase in gardening as there were 18.3 million new gardeners during the pandemic.  89% of these gardeners plan to continue gardening post-pandemic.  Food was one of the primary focuses of gardening, and most all of the survey participants agreed that gardening was good for their mental health.   If legal, surveyed gardeners ages 18-44 showed interest in cultivating cannabis.

Agrihoods are called out as one of the most desirable places to have a home near.  There are 90 agrihoods in the U.S. as of May 2020, with 27 more planned.  In an agrihood community, you would find a working organic farm, solar farm, onsite kitchen, community garden, and a greenhouse.   Residents can purchase fresh foods, attend community events and have access to generous green space.  Agrifarms are fostering communal living and supporting healthy eating. 

The benefits of community and home gardening are bountiful.

1.           Reconnecting with nature, which reduces stress, and brings families and neighbors together.

2.           Reduces the carbon footprint or "food miles" of transporting vegetables and fruits

3.           Saves money

4.           Makes use of underutilized space in large cities like New York and Los Angeles-i.e. abandoned parking lots

5.           Alleviates food insecurity -as with the city of Detroit, where over 1,400 urban gardens exist.

6.           Provides employment opportunities

Urban gardening also includes non-food-focused gardening.  Have you seen walls of building covered in plants?  Completely gorgeous, adding an organic contrast to concrete, glass, and dirty city aesthetics.

Beautification aside, plants contribute to fresher, cleaner air.

Dating as far back as 3,500 B.C, Mesopotamian farmers planned agriculture plots in growing cities.  Urban gardening is not new, and city planners and designers will focus on more holistic ways to use abandoned spaces and create global cultural community camaraderie.  Even reaching beyond big cities, rural areas with few healthy food options are also moving toward community gardens.  

Having just teamed up with my uncle and mother to grow vegetables in six raised beds in my uncle's city back yard, I know the benefits of this necessary skill.   On top of that, I quite enjoy it!

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