Have trowel, drop trou?

  • Article by: KIM PALMER , Star Tribune
  • Updated: May 11, 2011 - 3:57 PM

A nationwide day devoted to gardening in the nude doesn't seem to have gathered much traction in the Midwest.

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Ever considered gardening in the nude? This Saturday, the sixth annual World Naked Gardening Day, is the day to do it.

Or maybe not, given that the average Twin Cities temperature in May is 58.5.

That might be one reason naked gardening doesn't appear to have much of a local following. "No, I can't say I have heard of naked gardening," said Vicky Vogels, community outreach coordinator for the Minnesota Horticultural Society. "We don't have a garden club that caters to that."

An online search for nude gardeners on Twitter and Facebook yielded no fans. "Nope. Scares the vegetables," replied Chris VandeVenter of Bismarck, N.D.

"Be very careful using your weed whacker," cautioned Lisa Olkon Vandesteeg, St. Paul Park.

"Is this a joke?" responded Sandra Miller, Blaine. "I don't think my neighbors would like me out planting and pulling weeds in the nude. And I don't want to see any of them."

Forcing nudity on innocent neighbors isn't what Naked Gardening Day is all about, according to Tom Mulhall, public relations representative for the American Association of Nude Recreation (AANR), an organization that claims to serve more than 213,000 North Americans and to be "the voice of reason on issues relevant to nude recreation and Nakationing in appropriate settings."

"Of course, you have to have higher fences [to garden in the nude]," Mulhall said. "In the front yard, I wear shorts."

But if you have a private back-yard garden, Mulhall encourages you to try tending it sans clothing. Why?

"It's hot work, once you have to start weeding and pruning," he said. "You get sticky and dirty, and it's way easier to clean up your birthday suit than other clothing."

It's also "a perfect way to get all-over sun," he added. "It's more productive than lying in a lawn chair, reading. And it's fun to be nude. You're one with nature. It feels more freeing than wearing clammy clothes."

Nude gardening is even good for your health, according to a press release from the AANR. Getting sunshine at least 20 minutes a day, over at least 75 percent of your body, can help prevent vitamin D deficiency, which can, in turn, help prevent depression.

And, finally, naked gardening can help promote a positive self-image, according to Mulhall, who owns a nudist resort. "We want people to feel comfortable with themselves," he said, citing a recent magazine survey (Glamour) that found 97 percent of women report having daily negative thoughts about their bodies. "Our job is saying you're beautiful the way you are."

May 14 might be a little early for naked gardening in Minnesota, conceded Mulhall, a longtime Chicago resident who now lives in Palm Springs, Calif. "It's weather-driven," he said.

Then again, Midwesterners are famous for their fortitude. Just ask Larry James Quinn of Rice Lake, Wis., who responded to the Star Tribune's online query: "I only shovel snow in the nude."

Kim Palmer • 612-673-4784

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