More men are returning to their roots — so to speak — digging into the soil to coax forth the beauty and benefits of nature. This was happening in Austin, though, long before the pandemic sparked a revival of victory gardens across the country.
In fact, the Garden Club of Austin was originally called the Men’s Gardening Club when it was founded in the 1950s. Today, Austin Instagram gardeners Andrew and Jared have nearly 5,000 followers.
With more than 50 community gardens on public land, a warm climate and plenty of rain, Austin is an ideal gardening country.
According to the 2021 National Gardening Survey, the number of men engaged in gardening — especially young men — has been increasing for the past few years. That interest only grew during the COVID-19 pandemic when we found ourselves confined to home.
But why are men getting their hands dirty gardening? Here are some top reasons.
- Gardening is good exercise. It may not be a treadmill or an elliptical, but a day in the garden is great exercise, and that’s something we’re passionate about at Austin Fit. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says gardening is moderate cardiovascular exercise and doing it for 30 to 45 minutes a day can burn off 150 to 300 calories.
- Gardening improves your mind and body. Not only does fresh air clean your lungs and improve mental acuity, but it also improves your heart rate and digestion. Vitamin D from sunshine strengthens bones and improves your immune system. Gardening has also been shown to increase ﬂexibility, strengthen joints, lower cholesterol, decrease blood pressure and slow osteoporosis.
- Home-grown is healthier. Supermarket groceries are often treated with chemicals, transported great distances and pass through many hands. Contrast that with the home-grown vegetables in this tempeh stir fry recipe that truly go from farm (your garden) to table (your kitchen).
- Gardens increase property value. Ornamental beds and gardens add aesthetic appeal to your Austin home, which can increase property value up to 20%.
- Attract beneficial wildlife. Songbirds, butterflies, pollinators and ladybugs seek out and thrive in well-maintained yards.
- Growing your own is the “in” trend. The “foodie” movement among young adults has prompted more people to grow their own food, especially ingredients they may not find at the local supermarket.
- Gardening is eco-friendly. Growing your own food cuts down on the amount of packaging that goes into landfills and the energy consumed by processing and transporting food. Gardening with native plants that thrive in the local environment reduces water usage.
- Gardening is a family affair. Gardening is an activity that everybody from toddlers to grandparents can participate in.
- Gardening saves green (money). Food prices are skyrocketing. Uncertainties in world politics and economics mean your pantry is hostage to volatile prices and supply disruptions. Growing part of your own food supply can reduce some of the pressure on your pocketbook.
How to Begin Gardening
Young men, women and even little ones are developing green thumbs from East Austin to Pflugerville and Cedar Park. Vertical gardening is an increasingly popular option for downtown high-rise residents.
Want some inspiration to grow your own? Tune in to Gardening Naturally with Jeff Ferris or Garden Designs with Robert Jennings weekend mornings on KLBJ radio or visit Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center for Tuesday Twilights.
Some men may still be queasy about quiche, but all indications are they’re becoming quick to embrace the benefits of gardening.
About the Author
Todd Michaels is a conservationist with degrees in biology and botany. He writes about eco-friendly landscaping and recycling efforts around the country.