For the planet, we need to rethink ‘lawns’: Aurora Gardener gives up the dirt on benefits of gardening

Donna Lewis digs her work.

The President of Garden Aurora is also a professional gardener for the private estate of Frieda and Frank Stronach, the founders of the Magna International Auto Parts Empire.

While Lewis laughs that she is lucky enough to be able to “play” in the dirt every day, she knows that not everyone can spend as much time as she takes care of plants.

Still, gardening is growing in popularity, especially as people recognize the mental health and physical benefits of activity during the pandemic when many recreational activities were banned, she said.

While flowers continue to be popular, more gardeners these days are turning to making food, Lewis said.

“When you grow it yourself, you know it’s safe. While the decorative part of gardening is very important to our self-esteem, when you grow your own food you reduce your own bills and basically use land for agricultural purposes rather than decorative, ”she said.

“Basically, we have to rethink the lawn for the planet. With the biodiversity gardening and vegetable growing can provide, we support our native pollinators who feed our native birds. (We support) the whole web of life when we start paying attention to gardening in our own garden. “

Michel Gauthier, executive director of the Canadian Garden Council, agrees that gardening is a hot activity, especially during the pandemic.

“People are realizing, wow, there are benefits associated with it,” he said.

But gardeners may want to make sure they hit garden centers earlier this year.

Increased demand and bad weather that “ravaged” the industry’s growing season could mean limited supply for some crops, he said.

The council is working with the federal government to declare 2022 the Year of the Garden to celebrate the 100th anniversary of Canada’s ornamental horticulture sector.

In preparation, a survey was commissioned by Nanos Research to measure Canada’s interest in gardening.

Key findings from the survey conducted last November include:

• 66 percent of Canadians expect to spend the same amount of time in the garden this year compared to 2020, while 21 percent will spend more time in the garden.

• Younger Canadians are twice as likely to say that they will spend more time in the garden in 2021 than older Canadians. The largest increase is seen among 18 to 34 year olds.

• Fifty-five percent of Canadians agree and 29 percent agree that gardening can have a positive impact on climate change.

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• 70 percent agree and 26 percent agree that gardening can improve their mental and physical health.

Gardeners can be categorized according to a number of people, according to the council.

This includes 17 percent who describe themselves as avid gardeners, 31 percent who call themselves fair-weather gardeners who consider gardening a hobby, 12 percent who are new gardeners, and 22 percent who are dilapidated gardeners. Almost 20 percent of Canadians are not interested in gardening at all.

Gauthier agrees with research showing that the hottest trends in horticulture for 2021 will be more online shopping, more people visiting parks and gardens after work and on weekends, gardeners becoming social influencers, people growing more of their own food and homeowners are replacing more lawns with gardens and an increase in mini-plants and containerized gardening.

Kate Greavette, executive director of the York Region Food Network, said community gardens will be running this year.

“We are also allowed to operate with the current stay-at-home orders,” she said.

This includes the Aurora Allotment Garden at 372 Industrial Pkwy. S.

“We find the mental health effects, the physical effects for gardeners, are really huge,” said Greavette.

“I know that the demand for garden space has increased so much. Our waiting lists are huge at the moment. It’s close to home and something that people get into a lot more of. “

More information is available at yrfn.ca.

STORY BEHIND THE STORY: As this year’s gardening season kicks off in the heart of Ontario’s Stay At Home, reporter Lisa Queen wanted to investigate the activity’s growing popularity and latest trends.

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