This week, Minnesotans will be hearing (a lot!) about Give to the Max Day, a once-a-year event during which people can make online donations to charities. There are awards and matching funds and all-in-all it’s a great way to make giving easy and to help many worthy organizations increase their funding.
The Minnesota State Horticultural Society has been part of Give to the Max for several years. But why should gardeners give to a group that promotes our “sport?” Because the hobby that gardeners enjoy is really much more than a hobby—it’s a health program, a way to build community and one of the best ways around to improve the environment. A few facts:
- Gardening REALLY is good for you. Several studies have found that gardening helps relieve depression, refreshes people who are stressed out by modern technology and, as one writer says, is “the perfect antidote to the modern world, a way of reclaiming some of the intangible things we’ve lost in our busy, dirt-free lives.” Add to that all the great low-impact exercise that comes with digging and hauling and planting, the sunshine and fresh air you get while gardening, the fresh produce gardeners grow and eat—and gardeners are a just plain healthy bunch. One study found that children who spend time in the garden are more likely to eat fruits and vegetables.
- Gardening is good for communities. Anyone who has planted an interesting garden in their front yard knows that gardens create community. Neighbors stop by to say hello and ask what you are growing. Community gardens—spaces set aside for groups of residents to grow food—are particularly effective at building social connections and improving public health. MSHS has been promoting gardening and gardening in communities almost since its inception in 1866! Our Minnesota Green program is vital in providing plants, seeds and education to community gardens and community gardeners all over Minnesota.
Gardening is good for the environment. It’s very easy to get discouraged about the enormity of some environmental problems, but here’s a solution: Plant a garden, especially one with lots of native plants, water for birds and pollinators and some hiding places for frogs, snakes and other critters. It may not seem like much, but as Douglas Tallamy, author of Bringing Nature Home, says, “Our studies have shown that even modest increases in the native plant cover on suburban properties significantly increases the number and species of breeding birds, including birds of conservation concern.”
The thing about gardening is that while you can teach yourself to garden, through trial and error, your own reading, etc., most gardeners like to learn from each other. That’s where the horticulture society comes in. We provide information—our magazine, our classes, our programs. We also provide connections — we work with health care groups, community gardens galore, the plant companies and garden centers that help us through plant donations and expertise. It’s our mission to support the current generation of gardeners and to plant enough seeds in the hearts of young people to ensure that the next generation of gardeners will be there when it’s their turn.
We hope that as you plan your Give to the Max contributions, you’ll consider a gift to MSHS as well.