Gardening interests trend toward leisure - 1984

 BACG History Post #49

Doug Routley was a plant science professor for the University of New Hampshire. During the 1970s and 1980s, he wrote a newspaper column called The Yankee Gardener. The column reprinted below appeared in the Brattleboro Reformer on July 28, 1984. 

Routley wrote about the changing home and community gardening trends between 1974 and 1984. The growth of farmers markets made high quality local produce more readily available. Fewer people were interested in fighting weeds and insects to grow their own vegetables.

"Backyards which once grew potatoes, tomatoes, and corn now grow grass, and in many places, swimming pools occupy what once was gardening space," he wrote. "Stability in the price of gas, more energy efficient vehicles, and high employment have stimulated the buying of recreational vehicles and boats. People have become mobile again."

Routley identified a declining interest in horticulture among young people. Careers in engineering, computers, and biotechnology were on the upswing. Fewer older adults grew vegetables, in part due to the improving economy. Recreational gardening and ornamental plants became more popular. While there were exceptions to these trends, interest in renting community garden plots was waning in some areas.

Gardening remained the number one leisure activity in America, according to the 1984 Gallup Poll. Eight of ten Americans participated in some type of indoor or outdoor gardening (which included growing a lawn). Four in ten or 34 million households were involved in vegetable gardening. 

Interest in food gardening was highest among married couples and people over age 50. The article below was published in the Brattleboro Reformer on October 13, 1984. Gardens for All and the Gallup organization cooperated on the annual National Gardening Survey.