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The growing food gardening market

April 28, 2009  By Amanda Ryder

veggieApril 28, 2009 – The National Gardening Association and ScottsMiracle-Gro Company recently conducted a survey in the U.S. that looked at the impact of home and community gardening in America.

The National Gardening Association and ScottsMiracle-Gro Company recently conducted a survey in the U.S. that looked at the impact of home and community gardening in America. The report focused on the rise of food gardening (growing vegetables, fruit, berries or herbs) and compiled statistics on a variety of areas. Here are some findings from the report:

2008 Household Participation in Food Gardening
The report found that 31 per cent of all U.S. households, or approximately 36 million households, participated in food gardening. The average spent on all types of food gardening in 2008 was $70 per participating household while the total spent by all households was $2.5 billion in 2008.

Food Gardening Activity Percentage Average Spent Per Household  Total Spent By All Households (Millions)
 Vegetable Gardening  23%  $53  $1,402
 Fruit Trees  10%  $61  $538
 Growing Berries  6%  $29  $138
 Herb Gardening  12%  $30  $391

The Outlook for Increased Participation in Food Gardening for 2009
This year, 37 per cent of U.S households are hoping to grow their own vegetables, fruit, berries or herbs compared to 31 per cent in 2008. When it comes to households that already grow their own food, 11 per cent are looking to increase the amount and variety of veggies that they will grow in 2009. New gardeners are also planning to get dirty with food gardening as 21 per cent are hoping to start a food garden plot.

Food Gardening Activity Percentage
 Increase amount of vegetables  11%
 Increase variety of vegetables  11%
 Share vegetables with others  11%
 Preserve fruits and vegetables  10%
 Spend more time gardening  10%
 Increase size of vegetable garden  8%
 Spend more money  5%
 Start growing fruit or berries  4%
 Spend less money  2%
 Don't know  21%

Who's Food Gardening?

The report found that today's food gardening households include a broad cross section of the U.S. population. Here's how the households measured up:

Gender Percentage                 Age Percentage 
 Female  54%    18 to 34  21%
 Male  46%    35 to 44  11%
       45 to 54  24%
       55 and over  44%

Breaking it down by income level, 22 per cent of food gardeners had a household income of $75,000 and over, 16 per cent were in the $50-$74,999 bracket, 24 per cent in the $35,000-$49,999 bracket, 17 per cent had an income of $35,000 and under and 17 per cent were undesignated. Sixty-seven per cent of food gardeners were without children, while 64 per cent were married, 20 er cent were single and 16 per cent of respondents were divorced.

Why Food Garden?
The number one reason given for why people grow their own food is better tasting food. Other reasons included:

Reasons for Food Gardening Percentage
 To grow better tasting food  58%
 To save money on food bills  54%
 To grow better quality food  51%
 To grow food I know is safe  48%
 To feel more productive  40%
 To spend more time outdoors  35%
 To get back to basics  25%
 To have food to share with others  23%
 To live more locally  22%
 To have a family activity  21%
 To teach my kids about gardening  30%
 Other  9%

The study asked households whether or not the recession was a motivating factor in good gardening to which 14 per cent of households said it was very much a motivator, 20 per cent said it was a fair amount of the reason, 28 per cent said it was somewhat, 36 per cent said not at all and 3 per cent didn't know.

Food Gardening Experience

The average food gardener has been growing food for almost 12 years and they spend nearly five hours a week digging in the dirt.

Years spent gardening Percentage
 First year in 2009  20%
 One to five years  39%
 Six to ten years  13%
 Eleven to 20 years  12%
 More than 20 years  15%

How Big is Your Garden?
The National Gardening Association found that in the U.S., 57 per cent of households have a food garden that measures 100 square feet or less, 26 per cent have a plot between 101 square feet and 500 square feet while 12 per cent have a space bigger than 500 square feet but less than 2000 square feet and an ambitious six per cent have a good garden larger than 2000 square feet. About half of all food gardening households (48 per cent) grow food in containers in addition to growing veggies, fruit, berries and herbs in the ground.

The majority of households locate their food gardens (91 per cent) at home, five per cent of households grow food at the home of a friend and three per cent use a community garden.

The Most Popular Vegetables
Here's a look at what the households are featuring in their food gardens:

Vegetable Percentage      Vegetable Percentage       Vegetable Percentage
 Tomatoes  86%    Radish  20%    Asparagus  9%
 Cucumbers  47%    Potatoes  18%    Collards  9%
 Sweet Peppers  46%    Salad Greens  17%    Cauliflower  7%
 Beans  39%    Pumpkins  17%    Celery  5%
 Carrots  34%    Watermelon  16%    Brussels Sprouts  5%
 Summer Squash  32%    Spinach  15%    Leeks  3%
 Onions  32%    Broccoli  15%    Kale  3%
 Hot Peppers  31%    Melon  15%    Parsnips  2%
 Lettuce  28%    Cabbage  14%    Chinese Cabbage  2%
 Peas  24%    Beets  11%    Rutabaga  1%
 Sweet Corn  23%    Winter Squash  10%      

Interest in Community Gardening
In the U.S., the report found that among households that do not participate in food gardening, few households are interested in having a community garden located near their home – only three per cent reported that they would be extremely interested, four per cent are very interested and 10 per cent are fairly interested. On the contrast, 51 per cent of households said they were not at all interested in having a community garden.

Gardening Activities in the Schools
Schools can be one of the first places that children are exposed to gardening. Nineteen per cent of all U.S.households were aware of gardening activities for students at their local school while 72 per cent of people said they did know of gardening activities at their local school.

Fifty-five per cent of households believed that gardening activities should be implemented in schools whenever possible and 20 per cent felt that these activities should be implemented in every school. Twenty-two per cent said that gardening should be offered as an extracurricular activity, 20 per cent said it should be set-up in school only when it is convenient and only a select few (three per cent) felt that gardening activities should not be offered at school.

Why Garden With Kids?
The last area the study explored were the attitudes and opinions that U.S. households had about gardening with kids. Here's what the NGA found:

Attitude/Opinion Percentage
 Teaching kids about gardening is good for the environment.   48%
 Gardening is a good way to involve kids in experiential learning.  42%
 I don't have children at home to garden with.  40%
 Gardening engages children who may be hard to reach otherwise.  24%
 I've found gardening with kids to be a very positive experience.  20%
 Gardening with kids helps young minds develop.  18%
 I don't know enough about gardening to do it with kids.  16%
 Children who engage in gardening are better adjusted.  16%
 I don't have enough contact with family or friend's kids to garden with them.  16%
 I'm not involved in gardening with kids now, but would like to in the future.  15%
 Children who engage in gardening tend to do better in school.  14%
 I don't have the space for gardening with kids.  12%
 I am currently involved in gardening with kids.  9%
 I don't want to garden with kids.  8%
 I don't have he time to garden with kids.  6%
 Kids aren't interested in gardening with me.  4%
 I've tried gardening with kids in the past and it didn't work out.  2%

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