Daylight Savings Time: Farmers hate it, gardeners may like it, and the rest just go shopping


Sunrise from my house at 7:30.

It’s disconcerting to be plunged back into early am darkness as I get ready for work, but it’s even more disconcerting to hear that, far from saving anything, Daylight Saving Time actually increases residential energy use as well as gasoline consumption. I read this in Organic Gardening, which cites as one of its sources Michael Downing’s Spring Forward: The Annual Madness of Daylight Savings Time.

Many of you probably already knew this; I had never given it much thought. For me, changing the clocks has always been something that I just have to remember to do.  But whatever may have been the point in originator Ben Franklin’s time, the practice seems to be having the opposite effect now. Consumers are more likely to get into their cars and go shopping after work when it’s light out, so it helps convenience stores and shopping malls. Golf courses also like it. Farmers apparently don’t like it because it disrupts their schedules and their connection to the natural world (at least temporarily).

The consensus seems to be that DST is here to stay because it would be a huge pain to change it.

Jumping forward is good for after-work gardeners, or anyone who wants to work outside later.  I have long taken advantage of it to enjoy an early evening drink on the patio. But what if it was done away with (as well as its companion time change in the fall)? Could we let the light fall where it may? I think I could.

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Elizabeth Licata has been a regular writer for  Garden Rant since 2007, after contributing a guest rant about the overuse of American flags in front gardens. She lives and gardens in Buffalo, N.Y., which, far from the frozen wasteland many assume it to be, is a lush paradise of gardens, historic architecture, galleries, museums, theaters, and fun. As editor of Buffalo Spree magazine,  Licata helps keep Western New Yorkers apprised about what is happening in their region. She is also a freelance writer and art curator, who’s been published in Fine Gardening, Horticulture, ArtNews, Art in America, the Village Voice, and many other publications. She does regular radio segments for the local NPR affiliate, WBFO.

Licata is involved with Garden Walk Buffalo, the largest free garden tour in the US and possibly the world, and has written the text for a book about Garden Walk. She has also written and edited several art-related books. Contact Elizabeth: ealicata at


  1. I have no idea if the benefits really outweigh the costs/inconviences (I think we host this discussion/argument twice a year in our household), but I do dream of a future where more shopping is not regarded as a positive thing.

    On a side note, I think I hold the world record for showing up for work one hour too early, year after year, each fall, on time change day. #notwinning!

  2. The province of Saskatchewan, Canada, does not put clocks forward or back. It works just fine and avoids a twice yearly hassle.

  3. A few years ago they started the time change earler in the spring and later in the fall. (or was it the other way around?) Anyways, as one of those after work gardeners I like this change. I can get an hour in for a longer period after work. Take atvantage of the nice days. But if they quit it, I really don’t think it would make any difference. No matter what the clock says there are a few months where you go to work in the dark and come home in the dark. Its called winter.

  4. Yes. They changed the changing! Just when I had April/October down in my head, it changed to March/November. Standard time was shortened! I can hardly keep up. At least some of my newer gadgets (computer, phone) change the time themselves.

  5. I just heard a pro-DST argument for child safety in the winter when they walk to school. Then I gave it some thought. Lol, like kids walk to school anymore, especially in the winter in the snow.

  6. Speaking as a farmer, it doesn’t bother me. I don’t punch a time clock; sunrise is sunrise. Although this morning it’s blowing snow out my window, so I slept in anyway!

  7. I don’t care which time we are on, I would just like to not change back and forth. If DST is so great, let’s be on it year ’round.

  8. I really do not like DST. Oh, Hubby & I adapt quickly enough, as do the kids. But it seems silly for almost the whole country to jump through these hoops twice a year under the guise of there being some sort of “savings” when there really isn’t.

  9. I love being able to work in the garden until 9 or 10 pm (with a full moon) on summer nights. And I hate that it gets dark at 5 pm (or earlier if it’s overcast) in December. So I vote for DST year-round.

    I lived in Indiana for a few years when the clocks didn’t change, and I survived Standard Time summers. But I didn’t have a garden then.

  10. For people who like DST, why not just wake up earlier? Go in to work earlier so you can get out earlier? If your company like DST, have your company change its start-time earlier. Be your own personal DST, live your day as you would want it, and stop making the state inflict it on the rest of us. 😛

  11. I love it. If we change it I would much rather keep the later sunset in summer as I am an evening person and love being in the garden in the early evening.

    Back when I used to have to commute into the Bronx I preferred driving to work in the dark. Traffic was awful with the sun coming up to blind drivers.

  12. For those of us who live in Arizona, it definitely complicates things. Arizona voted not to use DST, so we never change our clocks. But since people in other states do…my family (in the Southeast US) has to remind me about the fall change, because otherwise I call them a little too early in the morning!

    I’m always having to ask people in other states what time it is there so I can keep track of the time difference. I don’t see any negative impacts from NOT having DST, and it certainly makes my life a bit more confusing!

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