Gardening during the COVID-19 crisis has become quite popular, as more and more gardens have sprouted in West Virginia–and everywhere else–in the past few months.
Since the quarantine began, people all over the country have flooded garden centers to begin a new (or continue a current) passion. There’s no wonder, really. Gardening is a therapeutic activity that lets us step outside and forget about isolation. But more than that, gardening serves as a learning opportunity. The time, patience, and care needed to tend to gardens make them the perfect outdoor classrooms. That’s why parents have taken to teaching their children how to garden while schools are closed. For new gardeners, this process can be difficult–but for West Virginians, it’s a bit easier.
WVU Grow It Program
West Virginia University’s Grow It Program, run by the WVU Extension Service’s Family Nutrition Program, challenges beginning and advanced gardeners to grow selected foods. By completing a short survey, participants will receive free packets of seeds (this year’s seeds include microgreens, peas, tomatoes, and butternut squash).
This is a fun challenge that helps new gardeners step into gardening while fostering a sense of community. The Grow This program has its own Facebook Page where participants can view helpful videos, read tips, and connect with other participants.
The program has been relatively successful in the past, attracting hundreds of participants each year. But due to the pandemic, the program received 25,000 participants this year. The pandemic has attracted people to the art of gardening, just as pollen attracts bees to a flower.
But it’s not just West Virginians who are flocking to their gardens during the quarantine.
Gardening Flourishes During COVID-19
From Liberty Gardens to Victory Gardens, gardening has long been a way for our country to adapt to crises. During WWI, the government encouraged citizens to plant Liberty Gardens to increase their individual food supplies. When the Great Depression hit, many continued gardening as a way to keep food on the table in trying times. Then during WWII, Victory Gardens began to sprout in response to food shortages, as the majority of food was given to troops.
Now, gardening has reached an all-time popularity high. While we aren’t suffering food shortages–you can read our article about how the pandemic has affected the food supply chain so far here–the nation is suffering from a wave of boredom. And gardening is the perfect activity to get outside, be together, and get our minds off of the virus.
For some, however, gardening might be a lonely activity if they have no one with whom to garden. That’s why the WVU Grow It Program is so important. It makes gardening fun and dissolves the boundaries constructed from self-isolation by allowing people to garden together in a sense. But WVU offers much more than this.
WVU a Resource for West Virginians
The Extension Service’s Family Nutrition Program, for instance, is designed to educate limited-resource families and individuals on nutrition. By targeting risk factors prevalent in WV–such as diabetes, obesity, and cardiovascular disease–this program helps West Virginians improve their health and access to community resources.
WVU also offers more resources for gardeners and farmers. Their Extension Service offers resources for gardeners and farmers affected by flooding, a common problem in WV.
If you’re gardening during COVID-19 and need some extra help, you can visit our blog for gardening tips!