When their world turned into one of social distancing among fears about the new coronavirus, Sarah Palmer and her family looked for a project they could work on at their home in Marshall.
The Palmers turned to gardening and began to grow a variety of fruits and vegetables in raised beds at their home.
“We’ve been having a lot of fun,” Palmer said. “This has brought us so much joy in a trying time.”
The Palmers are among a multitude of families across the country who developed a green thumb amid the pandemic. Many families have found a sense of community in the hobby.
For Suzanne Carter, gardening has been a way to connect with her grandchildren while also practicing social distancing.
“I have six grandchildren, and when I realized I wasn’t going to get to see them, I sent them all flower seeds. I told them, ‘Plant your seeds,’” she said. “We’ve been doing that and keeping in touch through gardening. It’s fun for them to have an activity where they can see the fruits of their labor.”
Palmer echoed the same sentiments about her children, Elizabeth, a senior at Marshall High School; Sam, a sophomore at MHS; and Sarah Jane, an eighth grader at Marshall Junior High.
“I have three hard workers,” she said of her children. “They have really enjoyed checking on the plants, being responsible for watering and those kinds of things.”
Their garden contains broccoli, lettuce, carrots, squash, zucchini, tomato, cantaloupe, watermelon and strawberries.
“My husband and son were our building team. They found old lumber in the barn and built three great raised beds. We also found some tubs used for cows years ago and we planted tomatoes in them,” she said. “We got creative with what we have.”
Though new to the hobby, Palmer said it’s something she could see her family continuing to do for years to come.
Carter, meanwhile, is a life-long gardener who has found even more joy in her garden during this time.
“I grew up on a farm – an agriculture farm. The love of the land is ingrained in who I am,” Carter said.
She and her husband have a vegetable garden that they maintain every year, and they have begun to incorporate flowers, such as zinnias, cosmos and sunflowers.
“The love of gardening has been in my blood for generations,” she said. “My mother and grandmother were both gardeners. I have a yellow Dutch iris that has been in my family for more than 100 years. It gives me a real sense of pride to be able to maintain that flower.”
The Carters sell items, including the vegetables and bouquets of the flowers, at the farmers market in Marshall. She enjoys seeing people at the market and their responses to the flowers.
“The zinnia, for example, is an older flower. It’s something that your grandmother and your mother would have grown up with,” she said. “For many people, it brings back memories and fond experiences with those flowers. I often have people who will say my grandmother grew these or my mother grew these.”
Carter is looking forward to Market on the Square opening May 30 in downtown Marshall, and says she intends to continue gardening for years to come.
“For me, it’s very therapeutic to work with soil,” she said. “You plant seeds and you get excited as they comeup and bloom. For me, it’s also about the sharing of the flowers and the bounty of your harvest.”