Spending time in the fresh air and sunshine while also safely staying home, backyard gardening is a perfect pandemic hobby. Although Shannon Owens, digital experience manager, had never gardened before, her first attempt yielded bountiful results.

Owens decided to start a garden at the beginning of the pandemic, when finding certain foods at the grocery store was difficult. However, it soon became a fun hobby and an outlet for wellness.

With the help of her boyfriend, James Bias, Owens built their first garden bed in April, planting peas, lettuce, tomatoes and cucumbers from seed. After seeing progress, she decided to build another bed a few weeks later, planting corn, watermelon and herbs.

“It’s really nice to be able to go in the backyard with a bowl and collect food,” said Owens. “One day I went outside and picked all these things fresh from my garden and made a salad and a mojito.”

Not wanting to be the only one to enjoy the fruits of her labor, Owens sent a produce care package to her grandmother in Georgia, including a watermelon.

“She was really excited about receiving that,” said Owens.

She also noted the health benefits of gardening as a way to de-stress, especially with the demands of an increased workload and transitioning to working from home during the first months of COVID-19.

“It’s great to be able to go outside to take a break, even if it’s just for a few minutes,” she said. “It’s nice to be outside, harvesting something from your own garden.”

Owens and Bias will continue gardening well beyond the pandemic, with future plans to share and sell their homegrown fruits and vegetables at local farmer’s markets.