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What do Oprah Winfrey, Julia Roberts, and Jake Gyllenhaal have in common? Yes, they all have more money than me, but they also each have an enjoyment for gardening. It’s not hard to see why; whether you’re looking to spend more time outdoors or just interact with people over a common interest, there’s quite a bit to be gained by joining your local garden club. The Garden Club of America, the country’s largest gardening association, boasts over 18,000 members across 200 local chapters; finding your meeting ground is as simple as taking a look at their national map.
Don’t see your home state listed? Just because there’s no Garden Club of America presence (I’m looking at you, Montana, Idaho, Nevada, North Dakota, South Dakota, Utah, Oklahoma, and Wyoming) doesn’t mean there aren’t locally run garden clubs you can look into joining, as well. So go grab your seeds and a hoe, because here’s five reasons you should be getting your overalls dirty this summer.
Gardening is an inexpensive hobby
The barrier for entry into a gardening club is very low, and the start-up costs are minimal. You don’t need a ton of fancy equipment, and there are no costly special shoes or expensive magic tools. All that is required are some gloves, a hoe, and a pair of clothes you don’t mind getting dirty. On top of that, most packs of seeds are only going to cost you a few bucks. Even educating yourself on gardening won’t set you back; the U.S. Department of Agriculture offers tons of free resources, books, and articles on this outdoor activity.
It’s an opportunity to make friends
The purpose of a gardening club is not just practical, it’s also social. Garden clubs offer the opportunity for you to get to know members of your community with whom you share at least one common interest. Garden clubs typically host events such as plant sales and seed swaps, which end up being a great way not only to further your progress in your garden, but also to make a couple of friends along the way. After all, having a shared goal is one of the best ways to make friends as an adult.
It’s decent exercise
Not all exercise has to be running a marathon or scaling Mount Everest. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, gardening is a great source of physical activity: “Physical activity levels are also higher among community gardeners, because the work done in gardens constitutes moderate-to-high physical activity. Furthermore, people who garden have lower body mass indexes than those who do not, probably because of the diet- and physical activity–related benefits of gardens and gardening.”
You can save money
If you plant the right fruits and vegetables, you can save quite a bit of money by growing your own produce. And not a moment too soon: According to the latest Consumer Price Index from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the cost of fruits and vegetables are up 7.8% compared to this time last year. If you take it upon yourself to grow some vegetables, not only will you have more cash in your pocket, but you’ll be well on your way to building a better salad.
You can improve your community
Many garden clubs will focus on beautification projects for the local community. Notice an ugly intersection that could use some sprucing up? Flag it to your garden club, and they’ll be right on it. Not only can they enhance public spaces by maintaining local gardens, but many clubs will also volunteer at the community’s schools to teach simple gardening techniques to kids.