New Jersey may be known as the Garden State, but Vermont can lay claim to a similar title — the Gardening State.
A LawnStarter analysis of Google Trends data from January 2011 through December 2015 shows Vermont, officially nicknamed the Green Mountain State, led all 50 states in Google searches for the term “gardening” during the five-year period.
Google Trends analyzes a percentage of all searches for a term like “gardening” within the same time and location parameters, and then assigns a search score (1 through 100) to a geographic region. For 2011 through 2015, Vermont notched the highest score on the Google Trends scale — 100 — for the term “gardening.”
“Vermonters love to garden,” one expert says.
Photo: Flickr/Carol Norquist, NGC Flickr Chairman
Green Thumbs in the Green Mountain State
Why are Vermonters so gung-ho about gardening?
“Despite the long, cold winters, or maybe because of them, Vermonters love to garden,” says Charlie Nardozzi, a gardening expert who hosts “Vermont Garden Journal” on Vermont Public Radio. “Vermonters are very in touch with the natural world — many living here because of the rural nature of the state — so gardeners fit into that value. You’ll see gardens in containers, beds, window boxes, and even green walls and roofs.”
Vermonters are particularly bananas over vegetable gardening, according to Nardozzi.
“There’s a bit of a foodie culture in Vermont, so many people love to cook,” he says. “Growing fresh veggies and herbs and unusual vegetables is a way to feed that cooking and eating passion.”
Charlie Nardozzi: Vermont’s foodie culture feeds a passion for vegetable gardening.
Photo courtesy of Charlie Nardozzi
Veggies in Vermont
Ann Hazelrigg, an assistant extension professor at the University of Vermont whose expertise includes educating gardeners, concurs that the Green Mountain State’s vegetable-growing culture is robust. In fact, Vermont boasts the most farmers markets per capita of any state in the U.S., according to data compiled by Vermont-based Strolling of the Heifers, a local-food advocacy group. About 620,000 people live in Vermont.
“We also have a strong presence of organic vegetable farmers in the state, and I think those influences filter down to the home gardener,” Hazelrigg says. “Vermonters enjoy the work and experience of growing their own food. I suspect our short summers also serve as a catalyst to get people outdoors to make the most of the several weeks of growing weather.”
She adds: “I would suspect the tomato is the most popular garden vegetable grown, and it embodies the short and fleeting nature of our Vermont summers.”
George Africa co-owns Vermont Flower Farm.
Photo courtesy of Vermont Flower Farm
George Africa, co-owner of Vermont Flower Farm, describes Vermont as an environmentally sound state where, in July 2016, a state law will take effect requiring all food products containing genetically modified organisms (GMOs) to be labeled as such. Against that backdrop, Vermonters increasingly are growing their own fruits and vegetables, according to Africa.
“The number of community gardens increases each year,” Africa says, “and small-equipment dealers report increased sales in rototillers and garden tools and supplies.”
Vermont’s gardening movement goes deeper than the desire to produce your own fruits and vegetables, though.
“During times such as these when terrorism is a scary, everyday thing, gardens tend to pull some people back together. This is especially true in Vermont,” Africa says. “It’s a heck of a way to encourage a gardening revolution, but it’s a fact from my perspective.”
Top States for ‘Gardening’ Searches
Here is our list of the top 10 states for “gardening” search activity on Google from 2011 through 2015.
Google Trends Score: 100
Photo: Flickr/Nicki Dugan Pogue
Google Trends Score: 88
Google Trends Score: 86
Photo: Flickr/Renée Johnson
Google Trends Score: 84
Google Trends Score: 79
Photo: Flickr/Larry Ewing
Google Trends Score: 76
Photo: Flickr/Amy the Nurse
Google Trends Score: 73
Google Trends Score: 70
9. New Mexico
Google Trends Score: 68
Photo: Flickr/Joel Deluxe
10. New Hampshire
Google Trends Score: 66
Photo: Flickr/Doug Kerr
Top photo: Linden L.A.N.D. Group