Amid the coronavirus pandemic and continued racial unrest, there has been a growing movement around plants and gardening in the Black community.
Over the last few months, social media has been filled with images of Black people displaying their love for plants and creating natural spaces in their homes. Instagram hashtags like #BlackGirlsGardening will pull up over 20,000 posts from countless accounts, many of which are dedicated to giving representation to Black girls who also have green thumbs.
Given the global health crisis, its racial disparities and the social unrest following the deaths of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor and others, 2020 has been a trying year in the Black community. Rita Omatsone, who goes by Plant Mom, tells Yahoo Life that during this difficult time, she has turned to her plants for solace.
“I actually learnt a lot from my plants these past couple of months,” she says. “Life is filled with so much uncertainty and unpredictable outcomes and having plants in my home brought a great deal of comfort in how to deal with those uncertainties. My plants keep me grounded and constantly remind me that there’s always something to look forward to. A new leaf, a surprise bloom and just growth in general. Plants aren’t judgmental, they respond to anyone and everyone regardless of who you are and where you come from.”
According to a 2018 study done by the Royal College of Physicians located in the United Kingdom, gardening has several health benefits, including combining physical activity with social interaction and exposure to nature and sunlight. In turn, sunlight has been proven to lower blood pressure and increase vitamin D levels, which can improve your overall mood. The study also stated that working in a garden restores dexterity and strength.
Social media has also called for the representation of Black men in gardening and now thousands of posts showing just that can be found under the hashtag #BlackMenGarden.
In addition to hashtags, the Black gardening community has created safe spaces within Facebook groups. Yahoo Life recently did a story about a Black woman, Tara Paige, who created a growing community with the Facebook group, Black Women Who Love Outdoor Living Spaces. The group shares inspirational photos for members looking to decorate their patios, balconies and other areas along with offering empowerment.
Since starting in April, the group has close to 200,000 members.
Omatsone, who was inspired to go into gardening by watching her parents growing up, says that she has noticed that the plant community has grown during the pandemic, which she attributes to people having more time at home.
“I think many people began to understand and appreciate the love and life that planting and gardening elicits,” she adds. “Not to mention, it gives people something to do and a way to express themselves in a positive way. Black people are cultivators. Gardening has been a part of the Black culture and heritage for generations. Black people have dealt with a lot of mental and physical suffering and pain for years, and gardening provides us with the perfect outlet to find the peace and calmness we need.”
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