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Feb 262009

From Green Right Now reports

Food gardening in the United States is rising rapidly with 7 million more households planning to grow their own fruits, vegetables, herbs or berries in 2009, according to a new report.

The National Gardening Association’s new survey, “The Impact of Home and Community Gardening in America,” finds a 19 percent increase from 2008 in the number of Americans planning to grow their own food.

In addition to cost savings, the survey found that Americans are looking for better taste and safer foods.

In 2008, gardeners spent $2.5 billion to purchase seeds, plants, fertilizer, tools and other gardening supplies to grow their own food. According to NGA estimates, a well-maintained food garden yields a $500 average return per garden when considering a typical gardener’s investment and the market price of produce.

The NGA hasn’t updated its survey of the number of organic gardeners since 2005, when it found that 5 million households use natural methods. The association sais it plans to update that research soon.

Highlights from “The Impact of Home and Community Gardening Survey” include:

  • 43 million U.S. households plan to grow their own fruits, vegetables, herbs and berries in 2009, up 19 percent from 36 million households in 2008
  • 21 percent of households said they plan to start a food garden 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 food gardening this year

“As in previous recessions, we’ve seen increased participation in and spending on food gardening as people look for ways to economize,” Bruce Butterfield, research director for the NGA, said in a statement. “That said, these results suggest the interest in food gardening may continue to increase, even after the economy improves.”

Among the 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

The survey findings were announced this week at the 5th Annual Garden Writers Teleconference, co-sponsored by The Scotts Miracle-Gro Company and the Garden Writers Association, which discussed recent trends in Americans’ gardening behaviors. Scotts is among the lawn products companies that has been increasing the number of available organic products in recent years.

A white paper detailing the complete findings of the survey will be available in early March 2009 on the National Gardening Association web site. The survey, conducted in January 2009 by the NGA, polled a representative sample of over 2,500 households nationwide on their gardening activities last year and future plans.