What is it about?

People are facing uncertain and difficult times in the face of the Covid-19 pandemic. The benefits of plants (psychological, health, economic, productive) in this period of forced isolation can be of key importance. If many of us have to self-isolate in urban or suburban environments, we need something to do to keep our bodies and minds active and fed. In such a challenging scenario, a vegetable garden in home spaces can bring recreational, health, economic and environmental benefits. Regardless of the Covid-19 pandemic, there is untapped potential for this kind of garden to impact environmental outcomes, public awareness, and market trends. Home vegetable gardens could provide a small-scale approach to the sustainable use of natural resources, leading towards self-sufficiency, self-regulation, sustainability, and environmental protection.

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Why is it important?

A vegetable garden in home spaces can provide recreation, enhance physical and mental health, and provide economic and environmental benefits (Dunnett and Qasim 2000; Hartig et al. 2014; Jennings and Johnson Gaither 2015). There are no greenhouse gas emissions, no use of synthetic fertilizers and pesticides, no leaching losses. Regardless of practical challenges and the existential difficulties we face, there is untapped potential for home vegetable gardens to influence environmental outcomes, citizens’ consciousness, and market trends. It is time to think about a new way of living that starts from daily activities, with a small-scale and bottom-up approach, based on sustainable use of natural resources and promotion of a subsistence economy and bartering, aimed at lasting well-being in generations both in material terms (food and energy) and psychological terms, able to integrate various disciplines (such as agriculture and animal husbandry, forestry, biology, architecture, engineering, but also economics, sociology, philosophy, and psychology), tending towards self-sufficiency, self-regulation, sustainability, and environmental protection. Bill Mollison, who coined the term "permaculture" in the 1970s, said that "a culture cannot survive long without a sustainable agricultural base and ethics of land use."


My heartfelt suggestion is to stay safe at home now and consider that this pandemic could be an opportunity for a whole new - and likely better - world. Covid-19 is the last warning that gives us time to reconsider human behavior - from global warming to the ever-increasing intensity and speed of activities, all of which are related to the principle of the capitalistic system. This pause can help us deliberate how all this can be transformed into a sustainable system; maybe it is a big chance!

Adriano Sofo
Universita degli Studi della Basilicata

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This page is a summary of: Converting Home Spaces Into Food Gardens At the Time of Covid-19 Quarantine: All the Benefits of Plants in This Difficult and Unprecedented Period, Human Ecology, April 2020, Springer Science + Business Media, DOI: 10.1007/s10745-020-00150-8.
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