Growing the Next Generation of Gardeners

This article originally appeared in the September/October 2021 issue of Northern Gardener.

“This campaign you’ve got to expand your membership is an opportunity to pass on the joy of growing to the next generation of gardeners,” says Todd Sicard, a society member who was part of a team of Minnesota corporate volunteers sponsored by Hands On Twin Cities, who partnered with MSHS staff to develop a new five-year strategic plan. The plan includes the launch of a new digital membership package and quarterly online publication designed for and with gardeners of the millennial generation.

MSHS volunteer sitting in garden

Volunteer Todd Sicard was among the group that helped MSHS develop a new strategic plan.

Todd grew up on a 3-acre property in northern Anoka County, where his parents had a 20-by-20 foot vegetable garden. His earliest memories are eating peas and green beans fresh out of the garden. “I helped in the garden because my mom told me to,” he says. Still, that experience instilled an appreciation for the value of growing food, so when an opportunity arose to join a team helping MSHS develop a strategy to nurture a burgeoning interest in gardening in young people starting out, he jumped at the chance.

Todd is a strategist for a Minnesota-based health care company and sees a shared opportunity to provide vital resources to those in need between health care and gardening. His company is helping Minnesotans’ new to the health care system—both immigrant communities and young people starting out—navigate access to essential services.

“I like how the hort society is addressing inclusiveness in designing their education opportunities,” says Todd. He and his wife are society members and donors. He says they love the beauty of Northern Gardener magazine. “We always have it open for inspiration but new gardeners starting out need easy access to quick how-tos when approaching gardening, so a quarterly digital publication is perfect for young people starting out,” he says.

Todd and his wife are empty nesters living in South Minneapolis. They are paring down their gardening activities now and focusing on lawn and tree maintenance. Todd admits that he’s never been much of a flower gardener. “I call all flowers marigolds to keep it simple,” he says, jokingly.

They care deeply about addressing sustainable practices when growing, though. He’s pleased that the City of Minneapolis is planting trees in his neighborhood with that in mind. “They are planning for the climate we will have, not the one we remember,” he says. “I love how the hort society is reframing its work for what’s next, as well.”

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