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Gardening provides relief during the COVID-19 pandemic

The COVID-19 pandemic has taken so much from daily life. Meteorologist Alex Calamia explains how gardening is helping keep communities together even from 6 ft apart.

COLUMBIA, S.C. — The COVID-19 pandemic has taken so much from daily life, which has many people giving back and starting a garden. The hobby is providing much needed stress relief and outdoor time during a difficult time, but it’s also giving people a reason to eat healthier and assuring that fresh food is available during these uncertain times.

Familiar territory for WLTX Gandy's Garden

Jim Gandy started “Gandy’s Garden” at WLTX in 2014 when a drought in California was raising grocery prices and threatening our nation’s food security. The raised beds have given us so much food over the years. 

Credit: WLTX
Meteorologist Alex Calamia's latest planting in our garden at WLTX

Shortages at the store swept the nation again in Spring 2020, but this time, related to COVID-19. Government restrictions and health concerns brought stress and a major disruptions to everyday life. That's why the WLTX Gandy’s Garden Facebook group opened in April. It's a place where gardeners can connect and discuss the garden stories we air and suggest new topics for us to cover in Gandy’s Garden. It’s been a great opportunity for people to garden beautifully together in a socially distant way.

RELATED: Gandy's Garden at WLTX Celebrates Earth Day 50

COVID-19 changes community gardens

Community gardens have changed during this pandemic, too. Gardens that were once a place to escape the hustle and bustle of city life are now a place for neighbors to give back to their town. The Lyon Street Neighborhood garden is the only one of the three city managed gardens that’s completely free for gardeners.

 “Most of this wasn’t put together in 2019. It’s one of the reasons we were looking forward to 2020,” explains Eleanor Davis Pierel, the Vice President of the Lyon Street Neighborhood Association. The garden underwent renovations including raised garden beds and a “tunnel house” which is a covered structure that helps keep plants warmer on chilly winter days.

The garden came together with the help of the Lyon Street neighborhood’s former president Marvin Heller. Community members tell us Marvin was their community’s “north star” and the garden was a place he felt could bring people together.

This year sticking together often means standing apart. “We still garden together, but at different times, just to be safe”, Davis Pierel tells us. With social distancing in mind, residents are still showing up to grow fresh fruits and vegetables and get some needed fresh air.  Jacqueline Williams, the program coordinator with the City of Columbia Parks Department, says the city is planning on finishing the tunnel house, adding a pollinator, and making the garden ADA accessible.