Updated: Jul 29, 2020
In these weird and uncertain times, an increasing number of people are turning to gardening -- not just to feed themselves, but to ease stress, spend time outdoors, get some physical activity, feel more self-reliant, and connect with the more-than-human world.
I've watched all the garden groups on social media get flooded with first-time gardeners, and it's exciting to see their posts about their successes and discoveries. Watching this gardening boom has been interesting. Garden stores, deemed essential businesses, have had to quickly adopt new technologies and adapt to new ways of doing business -- all while figuring out how to safely and efficiently accommodate the growing demand for what they have to offer. Seed suppliers have been running out of inventory -- many temporarily closing operations while they struggle to keep pace with this new normal. Store closures, supply chain issues, social distancing measures, and loss of income have made it harder for some people to access plants at all.
In response to all this, many people are turning to their immediate communities and the resources they have closest to them. They're joining neighborhood swap group and seeing what is available locally before running out to a store.
So now we have people gardening more and bartering more too -- two actions that are both practical and hopeful. Hopeful because, if we can continue to plant seeds, trade things with neighbors neighbors, spend time in nature, find ways to be more resourceful as a community, and think more about supporting the collective good, we're on our way to a better, more resilient future.
Personally, we've been swapping things like crazy (in a safe and socially distant way), loving it, and building connections with some really neat people in our community that we didn't know before. It's honestly been one of the biggest bright spots in this odd, unsettling time, and we've heard similarly from others too.
In early March we hosted an online seed swap, which so much fun, and a great, low-cost way to all diversify our seed stocks and feel more connected, even if far away.
We also started an online group for our neighbors to better communicate with each other, and we've been active in the local online swap groups as well. So far we've swapped plants and veggies with folks for other plants, seeds, planters, tomato cages, eggs, chocolate, AC units, bleach wipes, beans, cat food, TP, curtains, clothing, craft supplies, and all kinds of really random but useful things!
Over the past few months, we've been giving away, trading, and selling a lot of plants. And all the money we made from actual plant sales has been reinvested into compost and things that will help fuel our sustainability here so that we can have more high-quality plant starts for our farm and community.
And in response to my own panic planting of seeds in our garden (is "panic planting" a phrase?), we had an unexpected abundance of produce, which we've been sharing, swapping, and selling as well.
We are gearing up to start swapping and selling more seeds, plants, and farm boxes in the fall. If you'd like to be the first to hear about what we have, please join our mailing list.