Data Support Link Between Gardening and Spirituality

It was gratifying to hear Garden Writers of America (GWA) annual symposium keynote speaker Kierstin De West describe a developing cultural shift in which consumer attitudes about sustainability encompass more than just the idea of "green" products.

Her data support my position that gardeners want something "more" from their gardening experiences. De West's presentation on sustainability was based on a market research study she did specifically for her GWA talk, which surveyed 5,000 people in North America, 18 and older. Among her findings was that there are four "Pillars of Sustainability:" Personal, environmental, social, and spiritual.

I zeroed in on her figures that show that 62% of the general population is looking for more spiritual contentment and support, and that gardeners feel they can find it in the garden. Interestingly, 53% of people who garden from once a month to once a week feel this way, but only 43% of people who garden every day do. That doesn't surprise me. People who garden every day are likely to have more complex gardens. Over the years, the repetitive mechanical tasks of seasonal and annual maintenance can become a boring chore instead of the meaningful meditation or communication with nature that we once envisioned. It's up to us re-engage with the meaning gardening holds for us.

Spirituality, of course, means different things to different people, so while one person thinks of paying homage to a particular saint or person, another may think in terms of nature spirits, energies, or sacred objects such as stones, trees, or relics. There is no one right way to think about this, but in terms of Cultivating The Inner Gardener it is any one of a collection of things or activities that calls out to our highest and best self.

What would help you build a stronger connection to your own spiritual beliefs?

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