It’s all over now baby blue. I had no idea we had packed it in. Was this the message of Plant-o-rama 2014? The bad news was delivered on the same day as Pete Seeger’s death. Wrinkles or not, I was pretty sure, I still had some gardening to do.
David Culp introduced the theme of 2014 Plant-o-rama: New Directions in Horticulture. Why do people between the ages of 18-34 want to grow Artemisia? To make Absinthe. Why do they want to grow Hops? To make beer. Why do they want to grow Grapes? To make wine. Why do they want to grow
Cucumbers? To make pickles, etc., etc., etc. Culp’s trendspotting informed his judgement that Millennials do not want to go to a lecture. Offer a workshop in the evening or on a weekend and watch the seats fill up. What is role of a CSA ? Answer: a sense of community and emotionally connecting with one another. And this idea of connecting is also responsible for the popularity of the native plant movement. It’s spiritual. I was left waiting to hear why I didn’t fit in.
Ken Druse was asked to play the role of curmudgeon to a panel discussing: What will the future of horticulture look like? The panel consisted of the “new” horticulturists. Katherine Aul (Staghorn Design Studio, Brooklyn), Kristen DeSouza (Allen C. Haskel Park, New Bedford, Ma.), Rebecca McMackin (Brooklyn Bridge Park), Kelly Norris (Greater Des Moines Botanical Garden) and Gwen Schwartz (Brooklyn Grange). Ken asked how can we make horticulture meaningful today? Katherine answered: “Make it accessible. Make it fun. Make people feel empowered. Make it sexy. Want to make a Mojioto?…grow mint in your garden.”
Rebecca McMackin, the Director of Horticulture for Brooklyn Bridge Park, tends to take a more intellectual approach to these issues. “Horticulture is undergoing an ideological change. It’s all about living a meaningful life”. Helen and Scott Nearing wrote about that idea in Living the Good Life (1990).
Urban is cool again. Farming and gardening are being done in the cities, using new technologies and new media. Who can’t get behind that? Not me.