Study Shows an Increase in Vegetable Gardeners

Study Shows an Increase in Vegetable Gardeners

Article by Sarah Duke

The results are in from the January 2009 Impact of Home and Community Gardening In America study, which was conducted by Harris Interactive for the National Gardening Association. In their research, they contacted 2,559 households nationwide to determine how many home gardeners there are in America and what the impact of that might be. In fact, they found that 7 million more households plan on growing plants for food, including fruits, vegetables, berries and herbs in 2009, compared to 2008. Thirty-seven percent of all US households are actively engaged in food production now.

So just who are all these new gardeners? “The demographics of today’s food gardening households include a broad cross-section of the U.S. population. There are few other outdoor activities where virtually every demographic group is so well represented, no matter what their age, education, income, marital status, household size, gender, or regional location,” concludes the NGA report.

The food gardening experience is enjoyed primarily by women (54%), those ages 45+ (68%), college students (43%) and married couples with no children at home (67%). The gardeners are pretty evenly spread across the South, Midwest, West and Northeast. Those making ,000 – ,999 in household income are the most common gardening group (24%), although many who make over ,000 (22%), under ,000 (21%) and between ,000 and ,999 (16%) are also represented.

To get started, most households spent about on seeds, garden supplies and gardening tools. The study of home gardeners found that the average, well-maintained 600-square-foot garden yielded 300 pounds of produce worth 0 in market value, which saved households 0 a year. The ten most popular vegetables grown included the following: tomatoes (86%), cucumbers (47%), sweet peppers (46%), beans (39%), carrots (34%), summer squash (32%), onions (32%), hot peppers (31%), lettuce (28%), and peas (24%). A number of people also grew corn, radishes, potatoes, salad greens, pumpkins, watermelons, spinach, broccoli, melons, cabbage, beets, winter squash, asparagus, collards, cauliflower, celery, Brussels sprouts, leeks, kale, parsnips, Chinese cabbage and rutabagas.

When asked why home gardeners are participating in the gardening experience, the overwhelming majority (58%) said they want “better-tasting food.” Over half of the participants (54%) say they want to save money on food bills; 51% say they want “better quality food” and 48% say they want “to grow food they know is safe.” About 34% of gardeners say the economic downturn has motivated them to grow food this year. Perhaps it’s the growing concerns over what is organic and what is sprayed with potentially harmful pesticides, which makes the average American consumer more skeptical of grocery store produce. Or perhaps it’s the recent scares we’ve had with tomatoes, peppers and peanuts this year. The National Gardening Association study revealed the underlying suspicions of the average consumer, but also this wave of frugality and earth stewardship that seems to be brewing as well.

About the Author

The benefits of a vegetable garden can’t be beat. You’ll get to enjoy fresh picked produce and you’ll get some great exercise at the same time! From fall vegetable gardens to a raised vegetable garden, you’ll find the information you need at the Vegetable Gardening Site.

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