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  • Jennifer Jewell


FOODSCAPING - with Brie Arthur. Photo courtesy of Brie Arthur, all rights reserved.


In the interest of maintaining my own lifelong love of gardening until the very very last moment possible, and all of you gardeners out there doing the same, I am so pleased to be in conversation today with not only an expert gardener but also a fitness expert the two have come together to create a fascinating and innovative new approach to engaging gardeners around the concept of lifelong garden-based fitness: GardenFit, founded by Madeline Hooper and Jeff Hughes, a 13-part PBS series covering 14 gardeners living in all parts of the US.

Gardenfit is not a traditional fitness program approach like do this many crunches, this many minutes of cardio versus strength. It is some of that, but more importantly it helps us as gardeners raise our awareness of how we move in order to make even very small adjustments to do our daily work more ergonomically, and therefore working with our bodies rather than against them – for instance, how we lift heavy objects, how we walk uphill, how we bend or squat or reach as we weed, water, or plant.

No matter where you live, no matter how old you are, no matter what kind of garden you are in relationship with this, the idea behind GardenFit is for you to stay as flexible, ergonomic, strong, positive and physically fit as possible throughout your garden life.

It is clearly a life philosophy not just a television program for Madeline and Jeff.


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JOIN US again next week, when we’re headed out in the garden, or down the block, or up the trail for some planty wonder and magic in the company of Bridget Collins – the imaginative spirit behind Flora Forager. She may or may not be joined by the flower fairies who enliven her floral work. Listen in!


Thinking out loud this week:

I think this conversation with Madeline and Jeff is a perfect reminder in the height of the active growing season – While we are still engaged in the bulk of the season’s seeding, planting, weeding, watering – this climax moments of the heartfelt but physically demanding labor of gardening.

In their first episode, the two visit Renny Reynolds of the Edenic Hortulus Farm in Pennsylvania and Jeff works on Renny’s approach to walking up hill, in another episode Jeff and Madeline work with famed plantswoman and garden designer Lauren Springer out of Fort Collins, Co on how to care for the strength and flexibility of her all-important hands.

In another, Jeff works with Brook Bridges of Soul Fire Farm as she progresses through a pregnancy on supportive footwear for best range of motion in her ankles, on her balance and posture for lower back pain. As with all the subjects of Gardenfit, these three plantspeople are seasoned professionals – and they all gained a little greater awareness about their physical habits and tendencies to improve their function and comfort in the garden.

There is always more to learn in the garden – isn’t there? After watching the first few episodes myself, I caught myself walking up a daily hill in a poor position and readjusted myself with no small amount of pride. Haha – may we all be happily gardening for years to come.

Finally, I wanted to circle back with you all to the native plant celebration notes and give a shout out to Peggy Dlugos in Manitou Springs, Colorado – Peggy who has been a listener since the first summer of Covid when she would tune into the podcast while she gardened in the cool of the long summer evenings.

She gardens with ¼ acre and has a large selection of natives to her region which were as she says either planted by the first owners, blew in on a windy day or were gifts from the birds (or possible ground squirrels): they include Ponderosa Pine, Blue Spruce, Gambel Oak, Chokecherry, birchleaf mountain mahogany, creeping mahonia, rubber rabbitbrush, blue flax, rocky mountain penstemon, prairie coneflower, and yarrow, From the canopy down to the groundcovers.

What a nice view, Peggy, thank you!





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