Jeff Ishee • Valley Vegetable Gardening • March 15, 2009
The official arrival of spring is on March 20 and local gardeners are eager to get back out in the veggie patch.
I expect we will see throngs of new gardeners here in the Shenandoah Valley this spring, as well as across the nation. A recent survey conducted by the National Gardening Association confirms that vegetable gardening in the United States is on the rise.
Officials with the organization say they expect 7 million more kitchen gardens in 2009, up 19 percent from 2008. This anticipated increase is nearly double the 10 percent growth in vegetable gardening activity from 2007 to 2008 as more people seek to grow their own food.
This really doesn’t surprise me. It’s just a matter of more Americans recognizing the benefits of growing their own produce. They appreciate the improved quality, taste and, in times like these, the savings on their grocery bill. The movement is unquestionably having an impact on the gardening industry.
Officials with the National Gardening Association say consumers spent $2.5 billion in 2008 to purchase seeds, plants, fertilizer, tools and other gardening supplies to grow their own food. According to NGA estimates, even a modest, well-maintained vegetable garden yields a $500 average return per garden when considering a typical gardener’s investment and the retail price of produce.
The economy is one of the leading factors driving Americans into their backyards to grow fresh fruits and vegetables. “As in previous recessions, we’ve seen increased participation in and spending on food gardening as people look for ways to economize,” explains Bruce Butterfield, research director for the NGA. “That said, these results suggest the interest in food gardening may continue to increase, even after the economy improves.”
Highlights from the survey include:
# 43 million U.S. households plan to grow their own fruits, vegetables, herbs and berries in 2009
# 11 percent of households already active in food gardening plan to increase both the amount and variety of vegetables they will grow in 2009; 10 percent also said they will spend more time gardening this year.
Among the other reasons respondents gave as to why their households are growing their own food:
# 58 percent said for better-tasting food
# 54 percent said to save money on food bills
# 51 percent said for better quality food
# 48 percent said to grow food they know is safe