How the COVID-19 pandemic has changed TCI’s Farming Landscape

Plant mom Loren Hall gives us five super valid reasons why you should become a backyard farmer.

It’s not a stretch to say that everyone knows at least one person who started gardening during the pandemic. With all the newfound free time people had, everyone was looking for something to do. Some of us got into baking and others began to make daily TikTok videos, but one of the strongest communities to be formed during this time was the farmers. As a plant mom myself, I can appreciate the recent promotion of the culture.

Like Farmville, but in real life

The people of the TCI quickly turned Farmville into a reality, to the point where it only made sense to create a Facebook Group called TCI Backyard Farmers. As people gained more interest in growing their own plants, social media quickly filled up with the excitement surrounding one’s first harvest. Across the weeks in lockdown, the Backyard Farmers regularly proved that you don’t need to live in North Caicos in order to be a farmer. 

At present, the Facebook group has nearly 2,000 members and is continuing to grow. This isn’t surprising as businesses encouraged people to take up home gardening, by starting to sell seeds and gardening tools. Last summer, the TCI Backyard Farmers collaborated with Do It Center in an act to showcase backyard farmers’ hard work. As part of Do It Center’s “Community Farmer’s Day”, a Sale & Swap was held. This allowed the backyard farmers to enjoy the fruits of their labour, and share those joys with others.

the turksmaster on the go at rake and scrape festival
A Mullberry tree I received from the Sale & Swap

Gardening is a Global Trend

However, Turks and Caicos Islanders were not the only ones to pick up this trend of home gardening during the pandemic, and according to an article in The Guardian, the trend looks like it’s here to stay.

Thus, if you haven’t already jumped on the bandwagon to becoming a plant-parent, the opportunity is still available, and we are going to give you 5 reasons why you should start:

1. It teaches kids many important life lessons

Having to remember to water a plant every day is quite the lesson in responsibility. Personally, I recommend growing tomatoes, simply because those plants act very dramatic when their regular watering is even an hour past due. (You are likely to find them leaning over their pots, wilted in absolute despair.) Furthermore, if the plant dies, kids will learn that some things don’t work out as planned, or if it lives, they will learn that hard work pays off when they get to reap their first harvest.

My first tomato of the season

2. It is a workout

If you are one of the few who did not get caught in the exercise wave of 2020, but are still hoping to get fit, then gardening is probably for you. As we all know, plants grow and as such, they need gradually bigger pots to help them continue growing. It is quite the workout to transfer plants to larger pots. Plus, when it finally gets time to put them in the ground, you’ll develop great arm strength from digging a hole.

Transferring plants to bigger pots

3. Gardening eases stress

According to the Royal Horticultural Society (RHS), gardening has the same positive impact on your wellbeing as vigorous exercise does. It also helps to restore our minds and reduce negative feelings by shifting our focus away from whatever is stressing us. Thus, if you are tired of speaking to people, start a garden and speak to your plants! It’ll probably make you feel better. (The RHS also says that speaking to your plants will help them to grow faster too, so win-win.)

4. Basically, it’s free food

Now, yes you do have to buy the supplies and probably the seeds, plus the added physical work involved. However, we’ve already explained the physical and mental benefits of an activity like gardening, so think of the physical work as a bonus. Nonetheless, the food is free because you’re growing it yourself. Also, it’s usually unlimited as long as you keep taking care of your plants. Furthermore, there’s a special sense of pride in knowing that you’re cooking something you grew yourself. You can also tap into your entrepreneurial spirit and sell any extra from your harvest that you may not use.

Bearings from my jalapeño plant

5. You’re helping the environment

Something the pandemic showed us quite early on, was that humans have had such a detrimental impact on the environment. If you don’t recall, I’ll remind you, that while we were locked indoors, global pollution levels dropped drastically. With issues like global warming looming due to high CO2 emissions, our planet needs all the help it can get. In Biology, we all learned that plants take in carbon dioxide, and release oxygen. Thus, if plants can help us by not only taking in the gasses that are harming our ozone layer, but also giving us the gas we need to breathe, why not start a garden and grow more plants?

A cherry from my cherry tree

The bottom line

Clearly, having a home garden is something that can bring about a positive impact in your life. If you haven’t already started your own, I strongly encourage it. Backyard farming proves itself not only to be beneficial to the farmer, but to the world at large. Furthermore, with Earth Day just passing, what better way to say thank you to our planet than to give back to it?

Loren Hall

WAVES Correspondent

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