There’s been some interesting push back from a few Gen Y gardeners sick and tired of hearing the horticulture industry worry about whether “kids these days” will ever show interest in plants.
The best example is this blog post by Gen Schmidt from North Coast Gardening, “Gen X and Y Gardeners – Can We Quit Worrying About This, Please?” Ms Schmidt does not agree that “at some scary date in the future, we will be left with no gardeners at all because all my generation likes to do is play video games and text with people who are sitting in the same room.” She claims that Gen Y is actually MORE likely to garden than previous generations.
“My generation’s reliance on technology has given us an even greater desire to get outside and plunge our hands into the soil, and the easy availability of information and inspiring ideas (Pinterest, anyone?) makes us more likely to get outside and garden, rather than less. But I’ll admit it: on the whole, people in their twenties and thirties don’t garden as much as people 45-and-up. And, repeat after me, this is not a cause for concern. Why?”
Gen answers the question “Why?” with three main points. Landscape activities are triggered by 1) home ownership, 2) wealth accumulation and 3) parenting. With the exception of child-rearing prompting gardening activities (the data I have seen suggests the opposite), her points are solid and pretty undeniable. When Gen Y start forming new households, their demand for garden products will hopefully make the Boomer generation a distant memory.
“Can we quit worrying about this, please?
No, we can’t. Even if we have great hope…even if we believe the future could be great…its a VERY bad idea to stop worrying about this. Actually, I don’t think we are nearly concerned enough about Gen X & Y. We need to think and talk about this more, not less. Generational change is important.
Every generation worries about their children. Parents have been shaking their heads at “the kids these days” since Adam and Eve’s son Cain murdered his brother Able. And, while its good advice for parents to not panic and lighten up a little–”hey, the world keeps spinning and kids are stupid because they’re young and irresponsible…but they DO grow up and they DO learn from their mistakes. Its gonna be OK.”
But, stop worrying? No, we SHOULD worry.
We worry because we care.
Imagine if a Republican party insider circulated a memo that said, ” So what if voters under 30 went overwhelmingly for Obama in the 2008 election? Younger voters will mature and, like all previous generations, will grow more conservative as they age. Once they are homeowners, investors, entrepreneurs and parents they will vote to protect their assets from liberal redistribution schemes by the Democrats. Forget about the kids and wait till they grow up.” Don’t worry? That’s not good advice.
We should worry even if there were nothing to worry about.
Imagine if someone stood up at a Nordstrom meeting and said, “Hey, let’s lighten up a little. We’re a great company. Our culture of service is second to none. We’re the best! Can we please just stop worrying about the customer experience already?”
Imagine if the Toyota annual report said, “Our quality is good enough. We will save money this year by spending less on new quality initiatives. We have proven our ability time and again. Can we please stop worrying about quality?”
Ha! Stop worrying? I don’t think so.
There is reason to be concerned.
The generational change playing out right now is fascinating, and while its not all bad news for the Horticulture Industry, it isn’t all good either. Anecdotal evidence by folks like Ms Schmidt that her friends are passionate gardeners, really only proves one thing: there will be a viable niche market for plants, even as we bridge the gap from Boomer to Gen Y (Gen X as a drastically smaller demographic). The mass market? Not quite so easy to figure out.
Much to ponder.
What does it mean that the average child today spends 7 minutes playing outside and 7 hours in front of a screen? Is it any coincidence childhood obesity is rising drastically? Is it any surprise ADD is rampant and our kids are numbed by medication? When a major portion of a population has spent 95% or more of their entire lives inside a climate controlled building, where they push buttons that manipulate virtual realities both for work and for play, what does this mean for society? What will the impact be on the American landscape?
OpenHort doesn’t think these are stale questions, and we aren’t about to stop thinking about them.