Garden educator Jennifer Jewell will visit the Hamptons Horticultural Alliance in Bridgehampton on Sunday afternoon to talk about the theme of her public radio show and podcast ‘Cultivating Place’, which explains why to garden rather than how to garden.
Jewell believes that gardeners are powerful agents of change in dealing with climate change, habitat loss, cultural polarization and well-being. She believes that gardens are where people find connections to their best humanity and that sharing the beauty and joy of gardening is the greatest source of engagement with others.
Living in Butte County, Northern California, Jewell had been a gardening writer for newspapers and magazines for a decade when she launched the first version of her public radio program in 2007. She aimed to be different other gardening programs.
“I really felt a strong disconnect and unease with the way I felt that gardens and gardeners and gardening were portrayed in our mainstream media and my lived experience as a gardener and a gardener’s daughter and in gardening communities was very different from how it was presented on a fairly large and persistent scale,” she recalled in a phone interview on Friday.
She said gardening was touted as an activity for wealthy hobbyists who were mostly middle-class white women, while the professional level was mostly the domain of white men.
“It annoyed me on many levels, but the biggest one being that there’s only so much ‘how to garden’ that, if you’ve been gardening for a while, you need or want,” Jewell said.
She clarified that gardeners are learning all the time and there will also be a need for “how to”, but said there was not enough discussion about “the power of gardening in our lives, to both individually and collectively”.
It’s up to gardeners to share their garden life with each other, according to Jewell.
“So that was the focus of my first public radio show, and it was very localized in my 10-county area,” she said.
Then she was asked in 2015 if she would be willing to expand to a national reach, and the following year launched “Cultivating Place: Conversations on Natural History and the Human Impulse to Garden.”
She said the premise remains the same: gardens and gardeners transcend much of what polarizes and divides people. “It’s that common ground where people can and should come together for the better, and it could be environmental, it could be political, it could be social, it could be for health and well-being. And I think that premise has reached a lot of very hungry ears because it’s grown exponentially and has a devoted following. And what’s been great for me is that this thesis – and this kind of mission – has only grown stronger over time.
She noted that there is more conflict and division in general, but in the garden world, she said there is a lot of coming together and positive transformation on the ground.
Although “Cultivating Place” is now on public radio stations in several states, the most reliable way to find it is the weekly version of the hour-long podcast, which often includes extended versions of guest interviews and always has the addition of pauses in which Jewell speaks directly. to the listener about the universal messages that come out of the conversation with the guest.
Another problem in the world of gardening media that Jewell pointed out is that it is, in large part, driven by images tied to a marketing budget and meant to sell something.
“There’s been this shrinking of what we’re talking about when we talk about gardens and it’s often reduced to this really pretty two-dimensional image,” Jewell said.
She added that she loves a beautiful garden, but to talk about gardens superficially “is just an incredible offense to the three dimensions – if not more dimensions – that we experience as gardeners, which are physical and emotional and spiritual and nutritional and d ‘exercise.”
There are so many reasons why gardeners stick with gardening throughout their lives, including reasons they can’t put into words, she said. She noted that in 2022, according to the National Gardening Survey, 100 million households in the United States now report that they do gardening, more than double the figure two years earlier.
“It speaks to this recurring truth that there is this inverse correlation between our economy and our desire to garden, that when the economy slows down people start gardening and when it picks up they kind of move away from gardening. “, she says. “And of course the pandemic has given us multiple reasons why people are turning to the garden, not just economic, but also health and escape and being outdoors. But what’s strange is that anyone who gardens knows that growing your own food as a single household is much more expensive than buying it from the grocery store or a farmers market, so it’s not really the economy that sends us in the garden in those times. It’s something deeper and more psychological, which we don’t even necessarily understand or articulate. Because it’s not really about economics. it is about our desire to believe that we can control and participate in our own survival.
Its goal is to encourage as many of the 50 million households new to gardening to stick with it. She wants them to know that even if they’re not growing the best tomato in the world or an award-winning dahlia, there’s something else they’ll get out of gardening that’s just as or more important than the produce they get. from their garden.
In her keynote hosted by the Horticultural Alliance, Jewell will also discuss topics from her 2020 books, “The Earth in Her Hands,” describing women in horticulture, and “Under Western Skies: Visionary Gardens from the Rocky Mountains to the Pacific Coast” of 2021.”, with photographs by Caitlin Atkinson.
Jennifer Jewell will present “Cultivating Place: How a Garden Culture of Care Strengthens Places and Their People” on Sunday, June 12 at 2 p.m. at Bridgehampton Community House, 2367 Montauk Highway at School Street, Bridgehampton. Admission is $10, or free for members of the Hamptons Horticultural Alliance. Masks will be mandatory regardless of vaccination status. Visit hahgarden.org for details.