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Gardening - Who Cares?

I was hesitant when considering a job offer at the Indiana State Museum back in 1987 which would require me to move from Champaign/Urbana IL (affectionally called Shampoo Banana by some) to Indianoplace, a derogatory title the city had acquired back then. I am an inveterate list maker. On my list of things to consider, with double check marks in the NO column, was the fact that Indianapolis is the largest city in the country with no botanical garden. In fact, many smaller cities have a wonderful botanical garden or arboretum, some several, that serve as special cultural and educational treasures in their communities. After much contemplation, I took the job despite the aforementioned shortcoming. Glad I did.

Now, 32-years later, as a result of horticultural educator Dick Crum's (Dr. Dirt) retirement last year we lost his advice column and, due to a recent foolish decision by the Indianapolis Star, we no longer have Jo Ellen Meyers Sharp's (The Hoosier Gardener) column in the Sunday edition of the Star. Gone, like Reid Duffy's beloved Duffy's Diner column and his Reid Duffy Chronicles on RTV6, for those of us old enough to remember. So, is the loss of a gardening section the Star's fault, or ours? To be accurate, the "section" was more like a weekly horticultural story or two buried in the real estate ads. FYI: The Indy Star has 17 reporters assigned to sports, but (now) no one (not even part-time) to cover gardening despite the fact that we spend many billions on gardening--perhaps surprisingly, even more than on sports. The Star is not alone is their ignorance. Checkout just about any major paper and you will find the same situation or, if lucky, little more than an article by a syndicated columnist which, while appreciated, is often less useful locally. WHY? We must not care. It must not be important. BULLSHIT to that! Gardening and gardeners have always been essential--from our food to neighborhood beautification. Lest you blindly judge me, I am a former jock who still regularly follows the St. Louis Cardinals. But, I am also very concerned about environmental and landscaping issues, especially sustainability. You should be too. Know that your garbage collectors, grocery stockers, public safety officers, et cetera are far more important to your day to day existence than any of your sports teams and idols--nothing more than a form of tribalistic entertainment to which many have become slavishly addicted.

My question to you is why can't we have both--sports AND gardening? And by gardening, I mean broader coverage to include farmers markets and non-conventional agriculture (e.g., urban farming, community gardens, rooftop and coop gardening) and environmental issues as well as horticulture and landscaping. I say we can, and we should! So, to advance that cause I suggest we let the Indianapolis Star know what we want. I intend to contact the paper to voice a complaint. You should consider following my lead and ask your friends to do the same: StarMedia 888-357-7827 or David Hakanson If the managers of the Star are unwilling to oblige, to hell with them! In this day and age, the newspapers need us a lot more than we need them! As I see it, they are missing an opportunity to lead, while changing. A chance to be more helpful and relevant to the community, to us. GO TEAM!

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