On the QT | The Official Newsletter of GWA August-September 2016 | Page 10

F O O D CO LU M N DEE NASH 10 STEPS TO START MILLENNIALS ON THE PATH TO GARDEN HAPPINESS HERE ARE 10 STEPS TO GET THEM GROWING. • Attract them like bees to nectar. They are interested in yoga and mindfulness. Remind them gardening is a meditative practice that gets them outdoors and rewards them with excellent vegetables, herbs, flowers and fruit. • Backyard to table movement. Millennials are often urban foodies, spending money on craft beer and good local restaurants. We 10 GWA members need to show millennials that the freshest food is grown in their own backyards. need to show them that the freshest food is grown in their own backyards. Because they love convenience, millennials enjoy container gardening on balconies, patios and decks. • K.I.S.S. Keep it simple (and small) sweetie. Don’t assume that every millennial knows gardening basics, but don’t talk down to them either. Often called the best-educated generation in history, they just have less hands-on experience. Encourage them to start small. • Get to know them. Make friends and invite them to garden happenings. They are open and eager to learn. Most journalists who interview me are millennials. I ask them about themselves. Many later come to my talks. I also invite them to message me with questions. I’ve made great friendships, and I’m also planting seeds. • Communicate like the natives. Learn to text and Facebook message. I can’t stress this enough. Millennials text. They don’t like to talk on the phone. Learn to use voice dictation. It isn’t perfect, but it gets better as you use it. Also, if you have Apple products, you can use iMessage over multiple devices. Get on social media, too. Millennials especially enjoy Instagram, and it’s an easy one to learn. • Celebrate the beauty and joy of gardening. This one is easy. We are all passionate about gardening, or we wouldn’t be in this business. Pass on your love, but also listen. This generation needs mentors. • Encourage them to ask for help. At the very least, invite them to text, message, or email questions. Also, invite them to send you photos of problems and their successes. Photos are essential to getting to the bottom of a problem. PHOTO COURTESY DEE NASH People are often stumped by the millennial generation, and who can blame them? Millennials’ goals seem very different from those of the baby boomers and even their own parents. Although millennials care deeply about the earth, other generations accuse them of not wanting to get their hands dirty. As a group, they’re less interested in owning things, but they love experiences. Younger millennials are digital natives. They learn differently and aren’t as easily impressed by technology as their parents. They also have screen fatigue, and the biggest challenge is to get everyone outside. First, let’s try to define who millennials are. The U.S. Census Bureau classifies them as being born between 1982 and 2000, but these dates can fluctuate a few years in either direction, according to other sources. For my book, The 20-30 Something Garden Guide, we focused on people in their 20s and 30s. I’ll keep that definition for this article. We know that some millennials are gardening because they’re growing food. According to the National Gardening Association, “Young people, particularly millennials (ages 18-34), are the fastest growing population segment of food gardeners.” In a world beset by information and technology, how can we attract millennials even more to gardening and perhaps, to horticultural careers?