“Generation Y’s Reluctance To Garden Linked To Fear Of Failure.” … But Generation Y is the FASTEST growing Demographic of Food Gardeners!

DSC00073I was recently browsing on Facebook when I came across the article, “Generation Y’s Reluctance To Garden Linked To Fear Of Failure.” Although I do appreciate the suggestions from Stephanie (I love the term “garden coach”!), I’ve got to say this article hurt me a little. The author pokes at the debate that participation trophies make children less motivated and afraid to fail. Although I do believe this is true, there is no proof that fear of failure is the reason that gardening isn’t popular with millennials.

Everyone has a fear of failure, but can we really measure if that’s the reason why people don’t garden? What about other reasons, like conventional agriculture, plant blindness, lack of income, time, and space? Also, what about the other demographics? As a horticulture graduate, I have found market research that directly contradicts the claim that millennials don’t garden. So I’d like to take this opportunity to stand up for all the millennial gardeners out there! You are not alone!

2014 October Gardening Trends Research Report

According to the National Gardening Association, 72% of U.S. households (85 million) spent a total $29.5 billion on home/community gardening in 2013, with an average per capita of $347 (Baldwin, 2013). The food gardening sector experienced the most growth in the past decade, with a 40% increase in spending from 2008 to 2013 (Garden.org, 2015). Participation in food gardening grew from 4 million households in 2008, to 37 million in 2013. Community gardens also tripled from 1 million to 3 million. Consumers ages 18 – 34 and ages over 55 have shown steady increase in participation over the past 6 years, while ages 35 – 54 has shown steady decline (Baldwin, 2013). The survey also found increased participation of homes with children and urban households.

The millennial generation (ages 18 – 34) is the FASTEST growing demographic of food gardeners, with an increase of 63% between 2008 and 2013 (Garden.org, 2015). That’s 5 MILLION more millennial gardeners!!! They doubled their spending from $632 million in 2008 to $1.2 billion in 2013. The generation is bigger than baby boomers, making up 24% of the US population (80+ million). It’s predicted that their spending will increase as millennials become financially independent. It’s also important to point out that their generation is most likely to live in urban areas, and 40% say they would like to live in an urban area in the future (nielsen, 2014).

Millennials are considered to be one of the most socially compassionate and well educated generations ever. They are ranked as the age group with the highest awareness of sustainability (Meyer, 2014). According to the International Food Information Council, 43% say they’re willing to pay more for “sustainable” foods (Meyer, 2014). They’re aware of corporate social responsibility, and are attracted to authentic brands that share their values (Fromm, 2014). When making buying decisions, six out of 10 seek pre-purchase validation on user-generated product reviews (Fitzpatrick, 2014).


There are many different reasons for millennials not to garden. They were raised in a society where conventional farming has made it completely unnecessary to garden. They aren’t financially independent, live in urban areas and small houses, and maybe they have a fear of failure. To be honest, even as a horticulture graduate, I find it hard to garden when I live in a townhouse and only have a patch of dirt to work with.

However, my research shows great promise for the future of millennial gardening! I’m so glad I had this opportunity to brag on my fellow millennial brethren! (I’m so proud of you!) These are my people, and I’m very passionate about sharing gardening and sustainable living with them! Hopefully the newness of gardening will be what makes it exciting, and not scary!

Advice for Marketing to Millennials

  • To appeal to millennials, presence on social platforms and customer partnership are critical success factors.
  • Aim to add value to the customer experience by communication, loyalty programs, recognition events and special access to sales and promotions through Twitter, Tumblr, Facebook, etc.
  • Make it a goal to let each consumer know that you are listening, and that they are special to the company.
  • Make sustainability and encouraging home gardening your brand’s mission.
  • Millennials already want to go green, just help make it happen.

Thank you to Stephanie Whitehouse-Barlow for inspiring this new blog post! I’m really passionate about millennial gardeners, as you can tell. Haha.

What’s your opinion? Did I leave anything out?

If you enjoyed, please let me know. I would love to hear from you!

Like, share, subscribe 🙂

 Work Cited

Baldwin, Ian. 2013. National Gardening Survey: Food Gardening Earns More Than Flowers.http://www.todaysgardencenter.com/business-management/state-of-the-industry/national-gardening-survey-food-gardening-earns-more-than-flowers/

Fitzpatrick, Emma. 2014. “How To Get The Digital Generation Into The Garden: Garden Media’s Guide To Marketing To Millennials.” http://www.millennialmarketing.com/2013/07/new-research-the-millennial-generation-becomes-parents/

Fromm, Jeff. 2014. New Research: “The Millennial Generation Becomes Parents.” http://www.millennialmarketing.com/2013/07/new-research-the-millennial-generation-becomes-parents/

Garden.org. 2014. Food Gardening in the U.S. at the Highest Levels in More Than a Decade According to New Report by the National Gardening Association. http://assoc.garden.org/press/press.php?q=show&pr=pr_nga&id=3819

Meyer, Megan PhD. 2014. “Can You Be in Favor of Both Sustainable Foods and Biotechnology? Millennials Say You Can.” http://www.foodinsight.org/blogs/can-you-be-favor-both-sustainable-foods-and-biotechnology-millennials-say-you-can#sthash.H5QBhfwW.dpbs

Nielsen. 2014. Millennials Prefer Cities to Suburbs, Subways to Driveways. http://www.nielsen.com/content/corporate/us/en/insights/news/2014/millennials-prefer-cities-to-suburbs-subways-to-driveways.html

© Caroline Hooks and “hortshorts,” 2015. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this site’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Caroline Hooks and “hortshorts” with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.


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