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Baby boomers caused a “lost generation of gardeners”  RSS feed

 
alex Keenan
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Baby boomers caused a “lost generation of gardeners” as parents neglected to teach their children about growing plants and vegetables, the Royal Horticultural Society has claimed.

As a tail end baby boomer i tried to teach my children a love of gardening.
My kids are now adults.
If I had it to do all over again, I would have thrown much of what traditional gardening out the window in the 1990's

I make it simple now and design in less work. Had I done this back then it would have been less of a chore and more of a learning experience.

First rule would have been ignore the relatives, this is how we have always done it.
Second rule would be, work smart not hard. Just because it has been done this way for years does not mean we cannot try another way if it gets the same results with less work.
Third rule would have been, grow what is easy to grow in your area. Why am a growing a plant I know will be eaten by insects when I have other choices that require little care?
Fourth rule would be, keep is simple. A few tubs of cherry tomatoes that the kids could pick as they ripen beats a row of large tomatoes that crack and require special care.
Rule five would be, reduce weeding were possible. No one in their right mind wants to weed in the dog days of summer.
Sixth rule, set up automatic watering. The key is to automate that which is easily automated to reduce work.

 
wayne fajkus
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I would think the opposite is true.
 
Bryant RedHawk
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Being a Babyboomer myself and knowing quite a few, I have to disagree with the thoughts of the RHS.

What I think happened was that most of the Babyboomers bought into the ideas of the corporate world and went with the easy chemical methods for the most part.
Almost all of the nursery people since the 1950's have used all manner of "cides" to make gardens weed free (ish) and to kill pest type insects, while at the same time preaching the use of chemical based fertilizers to make green lawns and so forth.

But there is a very large group of we boomers that have always preferred to use natural methods and compost, manures and plant items that bad bugs find noxious.
When you look at who's who in gardening and small farm agriculture you usually find they are boomers.
Some of the "Big Name" people in the alternative growing world are boomers, they have a following of both boomers and post Baby boom folks and all of them look as "modern" methods as blasphemous at best, down right criminal at the worst.

 
Tyler Ludens
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There's something like 150 million gardeners in the US, so it seems as though plenty of people were taught to love gardening, in this country anyway. They were taught to love chemicals too, but that's not their fault; there is massive propaganda on the side of chemicals. We just need to demonstrate a different way, especially to an upcoming generation who might want to be small farmers.

Small farming is where it's at! http://ecowatch.com/2016/05/23/vandana-shiva-food-sercurity/
 
raven ranson
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I'm actually really lucky in my family. Gardening sort of skipped a generation, but not like you describe.

My dad was born during WW2 and for the most part, spent his youth with my great grandfather (the last of our line to farm before industrial agriculture came along). Now, my grandfather (you keeping this straight? Dad, grandfather, great grandfather) took no interest in traditional agriculture, being a child of the Great War and coming of age in the Depression, he wholeheartedly subscribed to the 'better living through chemistry' view of the world. If there was a chemical for it, he would use it. My grandfather and great grandfather use to have competitions as to who could get the first potatoes, have the fewer weeds, &c. My grandfather was very good at killing plants by applying too much 'fizic' - he also subscribed to the view that if some is good, the more you apply, the better it gets. Only once did Grandpa win the contest, but we suspect he cheated.

My Great Grandfather, well both of them actually, one was what you would call now, a farm manager, the other a plesher (he managed hedgerows), had a far more grounded view of things. They saw no quick fixes and didn't trust the new chemicals - why should they, they never needed them in the past. Their style of agriculture was a sustainable one, with techniques that movements like permaculture is just now rediscovering. This is what my dad learned and I am very grateful for it.

The way we farm now is very much influenced by my great grandfathers. I can't say how grateful I am that we have preserved some of this knowledge first hand. That gardening skipped a generation, dad didn't learn from his father, is a true blessing!

My mum, a baby boomer through and through, had a romantic view of the garden, but in many ways, I don't think she took a practical view. I have few if any memory of her working the land. But in her case, the tradition of working the land broke a generation before so she had no real experience to go on.
 
Judith Browning
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Another always organic baby boomer here...forty years of serious gardening at age 65.......both of our sons grow organic food also.
I think there's a problem trying to define a whole generation by stereotype. It's always said that my generation 'sold out' and joined the corporate world...I know this happened some, but I also know that many of my peers kept living the dream with the flexibility and open mindedness to make it work.

 
Tyler Ludens
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My family embraced organic gardening in the 1970s, but in spite of this my dad liked to use the nasty toxic pesticide Chlordane around the house. http://www.globalhealingcenter.com/natural-health/health-dangers-of-chlordane/

My husband remembers being among the kids who loved to run behind the DDT trucks in Florida.

No wonder the incidence of chronic illness is so high in this generation, when it should be lower.

 
alex Keenan
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This came from the Royal Horticultural Society at its sprawling Chelsea Flower Show.
It was more about British society than American society.

In Britain, fewer than one percent of parents were taught gardening at school, compared with 55 percent of grandparents and 40 percent of children, according to a survey conducted by the RHS in 2011.

When I was in junior high and high school on the west coast, they had horticulture classes still.

The Royal Horticultural Society is concerned that many British gardens are being paved over by Britons to make car parking spaces or patios for barbecues.

As one Britain states, “Gardening is ingrained in people in Britain,” she says. “In the States we don’t even call it a garden, we call it a yard, and that word has very negative connotations, like it’s a cast-off, not something you put energy into.

In America many localities have “lawn ordinances”, which effectively make any other form of front garden illegal, and every so often someone growing vegetables or wildflowers is prosecuted.

[American gardens are about “kerb-appeal – a desire to appeal to future buyers or to show off the home,” she adds, rather than a love of gardening itself, and therefore much planting is “low maintenance and evergreen”.]

Permaculture, sustainable planting over a longer season, using perennials is really a new development in American gardening. Just go back to the old gardening magazines and you will see this.

The post baby boomer generation likely lived in the era of the victory garden. Having skills in gardening was a social imperative.
Fruit and vegetables harvested in these home and community plots was estimated to be 9,000,000–10,000,000 short tons (8,200,000–9,100,000 t) in 1944, an amount equal to all commercial production of fresh vegetables.
So gardening was a civic duty for the pre-babyboomers.
 
Tyler Ludens
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alex Keenan wrote:
In America many localities have “lawn ordinances”, which effectively make any other form of front garden illegal, and every so often someone growing vegetables or wildflowers is prosecuted.


I think to a large extent this is misunderstood. There are weed ordinances to keep properties from having a neglected appearance or be a fire hazard, but there are no laws against growing food, to my knowledge. People will choose to piss off their neighbors by plopping some big ugly raised beds in the front yard rather than designing a beautiful edible landscape, and then claim it's illegal to grow food when people complain. A well designed landscape which uses food plants instead of non-food plants won't violate any weed ordinances.

http://www.rosalindcreasy.com/edible-landscaping-basics/

 
John Weiland
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@alex K: "It was more about British society than American society."

And yet this word "Royal" unites the two inwardly even if events and histories tend to separate them outwardly. The largely indentured immigrants arriving in the US were looking forward to possible land ownership and the relative freedom to use it as they might, but would not be able to free themselves entirely from the shackles of the 'Royal meme', irrespective of the country from which they were emigrating. Broadly speaking, Royals *have* gardens, but Royals don't *work* in gardens. While a proportion of the working class was, and continues to be, firmly rooted in hands-on rural/farming life on both sides of the pond, many were chomping at the bit to turn their acres into their own Manor, complete with a servant class over which they could now lord. The trend continues with more dwellings having decreasing growing space...but plenty of gas-fired grills.....many embracing this living situation for being 'unencumbered' by yard/gardening work. It's the culmination of 'courtly life' with 'the Mall' having replaced the promenade around Bath....

The positive signs are the many here on the Forum......and the thousands more who remain part of a lineage refusing to capitulate to 'the Matrix'.
 
Dale Hodgins
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I live in British Columbia and two of my brothers live here as well. None of us have any lawn, but we all have gardens.

Lawn Culture isn't nearly as prominent here as in some places. The next 3 photos are of the boulevard on my daughter's street. Several people grow flowers and edibles, several just leave the grass long and one guy cuts just a single strip along the sidewalk, leaving the rest to nature.
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wayne fajkus
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Tyler Ludens wrote:

My husband remembers being among the kids who loved to run behind the DDT trucks in Florida.




That's one of my fondest memories. When the smoke truck came around. We would run behind it.
 
Marco Banks
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I was born in '63, which was either the last year of the Baby Boomers, or the first year of Gen X, depending on who you are reading. Of my 3 siblings, all older, none garden, even though Mom and Dad always had a great garden growing up. I don't have too many peers who garden as I do, but it's fascinating to see millenials come to my house and almost beg me to teach them to grow stuff. Hipster Gen X'ers and health conscious millenials are finding their way back to the soil.

So if my experience has any generalizability, I'd say this report has some merit.
 
Abbey Battle
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I think that, in England, we went from an era of 'Dig for Victory' to an era of almost having too much and things being too easy. Who'd want to grow there own fruit and veg with supermarkets on the horizon? We also see houses of the 60's / 70's and onward being built with much smaller gardens and no one there to explain how to grow in a small space.
Green houses and garden sheds have become luxury items. Few people want to make do and mend.
So, I'd agree some what. Life changed, gardening to grow your own food wasn't seen as so critical. Having said that, I do know a lot of people who garden, perhaps it is on the upsurge?
 
Tyler Miller
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I like your list of rules, Alex.

One interesting thing about where I grew up is that most people didn't have lawns and the people who had lawns also tended to have big vegetable gardens. This was a pretty rural place, not the suburbs.

Judith Browning wrote:I think there's a problem trying to define a whole generation by stereotype. It's always said that my generation 'sold out' and joined the corporate world...I know this happened some, but I also know that many of my peers kept living the dream with the flexibility and open mindedness to make it work.

Generational stuff is one of my pet peeves. I think there can be sometimes be value in discussing generational differences in the abstract, but more often than not people are just engaging in silly bigotry. It seems to be human nature to think that the previous generation or two are made up of selfish bastards both slammed the door on opportunities for the following generations and left big, steaming messes for them to deal with. It also seems to be human nature to think that the next generation or two are lazy, self-important, disrespectful know-nothings who have lived on easy street their whole lives and don't know how to work. People have held these stereotypes for pretty much all of recorded history, and if they were true I think humans would have gone extinct long ago.
 
Dana Jones
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Very interesting thread. I had to smile at running behind the mosquito fogging trucks. We rode our bikes behind it, it was so much fun! We also had lead toothpaste tubes, anybody remember that? LOL Maybe that's why I'm so crazy....

My Daddy was born in 1919 to dirt pore sharecropper parents. He was the 6th of 7 children. He was taken out of school repeatedly by his Father to work in the fields. At 10 years old, he chopped cotton all day along side his Father in crews of men for 50 cents a day. Instead of hating the hard work, he loved the soil and was organic before organic was cool. My earliest memories are of barely able to toddle, dogging my Daddy's footsteps in his garden. He not only fed us, he fed the neighborhood and widow women at church. I get my love of growing things from him. I grew a row of cotton when my kids were little and they moaned when I made them hoe the weeds out of it, as I told them the story of their Grandpa chopping cotton. They were delighted when the white bolls burst open and they took them to school for show and tell. My children are grown and aren't interested in gardening, too easy to just go buy it from the store. I am trying with my grand kids.

Too many on food stamps, it's so easy to ride the system and not have to put forth any effort. That just grinds my guts. I am glad to see young people caring about what they eat. I am even more glad to see young people caring enough that they are willing to grow their own food.
 
alex Keenan
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"I think there can be sometimes be value in discussing generational differences in the abstract, but more often than not people are just engaging in silly bigotry".

Societies change over time.

My Grandfather was born into an agrarian society where most of the population were still farmers.
He saw technology develop that replace the need for alot of farm labor.
The society changed as manufacturing jobs increased and farm jobs decreased.
He took a steam ship to Alaska during the great depression.
He was in WWII and used a sled dog.
He flew in a plane for the first time in WWII
He watched a man land on the moon.
So many things this man lived to see that I just take for granted.

I am saw many changes in my lifetime that my children now take for granted.
I am now watching the advancement of AI, robotics, etc. which will change my future grandchildren society.
There is always change, it tends to shape the generation that has to live through it. The next generation tend to just take it for granted.


 
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