Homegrown food is so good, it’s never gone out of style. In fact, a new study by the National Gardening Association (NGA) shows that food gardening is more popular now than ever before. The “grown your own” movement has gained so much momentum that Americans spent $3.5 billion on their seeds, potting soil, vegetable starts and other food-growing supplies in 2013—far more than any previous year since the organization began tracking food gardening separately from other types of gardening. In total, 1 in 3 American households now grow a portion of the food they consume.
What is even more interesting are the demographics of home food production. In the past, vegetable gardens were a big trend among the 55 and up crowd. Now, however, young folks are the biggest food producers. Millennials joined the ranks of yard farmers at an astonishing rate between 2008 and 2013, when 5 million of them took up the hobby: a 63 percent increase!
During the 5-year study period, the ranks of food gardeners swelled by 29 percent overall; food garden spending increased by 43 percent; and community garden participation increased by 200 percent. The study was meticulous in breaking down America’s gardening habits into thought-provoking numbers, turning up the occasional staggering, yet obscure statistic—purchases of berry bushes, for instance, increased by a phenomenal 323 percent!
The study also drilled down into the factors motivating people to get out and plant. The top four reasons listed in order are: homegrown food tastes better; it saves money; the quality of the food is better; and it’s safer to eat. The statistics give serious traction to the local food movement, validating the notion that people value where their food comes from and are willing to spend their time and money to show it.