For many years, gardening has largely been seen as the pastime of a largely female, often older crowd. While some people might know a father or grandfather who grew tomatoes or had a vegetable plot, the average gardener has long been seen as a woman with a love for all things green, from flowers to herbs. However, if you visit a plant nursery today, you may notice a changing demographic: increasingly, young men are becoming interested in gardening.
In late 2013, the Pennsylvania-based marketing firm Garden Media Group identified “Young Guys Get Down and Dirty” as one of their top 10 gardening trends for 2014. A year later, gardening centers say they are seeing evidence to support the claim; today, men between the ages of 18 and 34 are reportedly spending $100 more on gardening supplies, on average, then the typical gardener. According to the Garden Media Group, this trend first began emerging in 2005 and coincided with an increasing male interest in grilling and cooking. Watching celebrity chefs use fresh herbs and vegetables in their recipes encouraged many men to try growing their own.
Studies show that as many as 67% of urban residents surveyed believe that having access to green spaces would encourage them to exercise regularly. Accordingly, men in rural and urban environments across the United States are joining community gardens or even starting their own gardens, of varying sizes. Unlike their female counterparts, however, these gardeners typically disdain flowers for vegetables and herbs. Coinciding with the craft beer movement, which is also spreading across the country, many are also growing their own hops and grains to use in their home-brewing recipes. Fathers with young children have commented that the communities that form around these gardens and home-brewing ventures is particularly welcoming for their families.
In light of the way men have begun to gravitate towards gardening, some organizations are even forming groups and gardens as the basis for men’s support groups. In Droitwich, England, for example, St. Richard’s Hospice has started offering a gardening group for its terminally ill male patients. Noticing that most of their support group participants were women, the hospice began offering informal gardening activities, accessible to patients of all ability levels and experience in gardening. So far, the group has successfully grown a crop of potatoes, tomatoes, and salad greens. A nurse is on hand during all of these activities, and many men are using the group to connect with other terminally ill patients in the area.