During COVID-19, Californians sought food security, connection and solace in their gardens
California Agriculture. https://doi.org/10.3733/ca.2023a0011
Published online September 28, 2023
Gardening offers a range of benefits, from food production to social connection to improved mental and physical health. When COVID-19 struck, interest in gardening soared, but it was unclear whether and how gardens would deliver these benefits in the midst of a global pandemic. We analyzed survey responses from 603 home and community gardeners across California, collected between June and August 2020, to assess trends in pandemic gardening. Gardeners highlighted the importance of gardens as therapeutic spaces where they could escape the stress of the pandemic, and as safe outdoor places for socializing. The study also revealed people's concerns about food supply, along with an accompanying interest in growing their own food to increase food security and self-sufficiency. The pandemic posed challenges for home gardeners, though, with 62% struggling to access gardening supplies. These findings suggest the importance of providing garden space, resources, and support, especially to those populations with the least access to green space, so that gardens can serve as resources to improve community health, food security, and resiliency during future disasters.