Million Gardens Movement Hopes to Build a Happier, Healthier World Through Home Gardening

Big Green and Modern Farmer recently announced Million Gardens Movement, a national effort encouraging one million people to grow their own produce. The initiative will officially launch on Plant a Seed Day, March 20.

Million Gardens Movement comes in response to COVID-19, which has rattled supply chains, exacerbated food insecurity, and levied a harsh toll on the mental health of many Americans. The movement’s sponsors—Modern Farmer publisher Frank Giustra and Big Green Co-Founder Kimbal Musk—believe home gardens have the power to create a more nutritious and sustainable food system. 

“There’s never been a more crucial time to champion the power of home-grown food,” says Grammy award-winning artist Eve in a Million Gardens Movement announcement video. “The simple act of planting a tomato can be an act of hope and resilience—whether it be grown in a community garden, or in a fire escape or window box—it’s small collective acts like these that will sow the biggest seeds of change.” 

Researchers at Princeton University point to vegetable gardening as a leading way to improve mental and physical wellbeing. And a recently published study from Harvard University finds that eating just two servings of fruit and three servings of vegetables per day can help Americans live longer. Meanwhile, home gardens yield an average of US$677 worth of produce each year, according to a paper from the Journal of Extension.  

Million Gardens Movement encourages participants to register and share photos of their gardens using the hashtag #MillionGardens. The initiative’s website features how-to tips and resources from Modern Farmer, coupled with health and nutrition programming from Big Green. Modern Farmer also says it will help connect growers with local food banks to donate produce.

The movement is “creating a culture shift around gardening and the value of growing your own food,” says Giustra in a press release. “We’re breaking down barriers by showing how simple it is to grow fruits, herbs, and vegetables.”

Million Gardens Movement also gives participants an opportunity to donate gardens to families in need. A US$10 donation provides one family with a Little Green Garden—a compact garden kit ideal for people with limited funds, spaces, or knowledge. Kits come with instructions and access to online lessons to help families grow culturally relevant foods. 

Big Green will donate the first 5,000 Little Green Gardens this week. The nonprofit is teaming up with two other organizations—Conscious Alliance and the Greater Chicago Food Depository—to distribute the kits, along with more than 9,000 kilograms (20,000 pounds) of natural, organic food, to students and families across Chicago. Big Green will also support these “Garden and Grocery” distributions at schools in Denver, Detroit, Indianapolis, and Memphis. 

“Big Green and Modern Farmer started Million Gardens Movement to make it simple for anyone to give a family a garden,” says Musk. “Planting a seed is an act of hope for a brighter tomorrow.”

Photo courtesy of Jonathan Hanna, Unsplash