Cultivating the Future Plantscapers of America
As I sit here typing this blog, I feel very inspired about the future of the plant industry. We just finished up a strategic planning session at the Green Plants for Green Buildings Board Meeting at TPIE. But what will happen in the future of our industry if the youth of America doesn’t take over for all of us aging plantscapers?
I challenge all of my fellow interiorscapes to spread the word about the power plants with the children. I am sure you are all aware of the big disconnect with kids and the natural world. All the distractions of TV, computers, ipads, phones, etc. can really separate them from nature. There are studies that show more ADD / ADHD in children that do not have a lot of “outside time.” We all need a break in this crazy fast paced stressful world to, YES, stop and smell the roses! It’s important for adults and children to disconnect and slow down in order to enjoy the beauty around them.
I read, many years ago, one of my favorite books, “Last Child in the Woods: Saving our Children from Nature Deficit Disorder” by Richard Louv. It inspired me to get more involved with our children’s elementary school and other schools. Here we are in the suburbs of Massachusetts with plenty of gardens, land, forests and beaches, but how much time are our children really spending outdoors? Yes, some time is spent on the soccer field or playing other organized sports, but the lack of “Free Play” can hinder creativity and the use of imagination. Children nowadays can Google anything to answer any question they want. But little is more gratifying than a child starting their own plants from seed and watching them grow into beautiful plants or even something they can eat, such as a nutritional fruit or veggie.
I spearheaded a project at North Pembroke Elementary to create a “Peace Garden” in front of the school. The vision was a place with benches that the children and staff could sit, relax and enjoy the smell of the lavender plants. It was quite an undertaking. In a two day period, all 750 students were handed a perennial to plant in the peace garden. Classroom after classroom came rolling out, grabbing hand trowels in an orderly fashion (well semi- orderly) and enthusiastically planting their special contribution to the garden. And the Peace Garden thrives to this day. For a while after the initial planting, some students would even walk by yelling out “PEACE!” The younger ones excitedly pointing out to their parents exactly which plant they planted.
For many years we have been participating in the “Pot a plant” event (where big things are nurtured by small things) at Harvard Stadium for the Special Olympics. At this event, these athletes were able to pot up and take home over 500 planters. It is one of my favorite charity events we volunteer for!
There are so many opportunities in your own areas to spread the word to the youth of America about our industry or other horticultural industries. Get involved with your local subsidized daycares which do not have a lot of money and donate your time and plants to teach them how important horticulture is to our survival.
It’s time to get involved and take your knowledge and teach the future generations of Horticuturists. It matters!