Monday, December 17, 2012

How Much Does a Vegetable Garden Cost/Save?

OSU Master Gardener(TM): How Much Does a Vegetable Garden Cost/Save?

Great article from Gail Langellotto, coordinator of the OSU Master Gardener Program, who describes the monetary value of home vegetable gardens.  Click on the link above to read Gail's full story.  Here is a portion of the article:

"For each garden, I looked at the difference between yield and cost (difference = yield - cost). I adjusted the value of the difference to its 2012 value, using an online Consumer Price Index inflation calculator. I then divided this adjusted difference by the size of the garden, to arrive at the value per square foot of garden area.

Source Location Size (Square Feet) Cost Yield Difference Difference, Adjusted to 2012 Value Value/Square Foot
Stephens et al. 1980 #1 Tallahassee, Florida 1,400 $70 $384 $314 $874.14 $0.62
Stephens et al. 1980 #2 Jacksonville, Florida 638 $83.00 $416.00 $333.00 $927.03 $1.45
Stall 1979 Homestead, Florida 600 $333.65 $495.70 $162.05 $512.02 $0.85
Doiron 2009 Scarborough, Maine 10,890 $282.00 $2431.00 $2149.00 $2297.80 $0.21
Roth 2008 Oregon 878 $318.43 $606.97 $288.54 $307.42 $0.35
Cleveland et al. 1985 #1 Tucson, Arizona 833 $45.00 $154.00 $109.00 $232.38 $0.28
Cleveland et al. 1985 #2 Tucson, Arizona 627.5 $56.00 $178.00 $122.00 $260.09 $0.41
Utzinger and Connolly Harrison 1978 Columbus, OH 150.7 $46.00 $90.00 $44.00 $154.80 $0.41

Altogether, the gardens had an AVERAGE VALUE OF $0.65 / square foot of garden area, and a MEDIAN VALUE OF $0.52 / square foot of garden area.

For a modest-sized garden, 200 square feet in size, that's a return of $104 in the first year. For larger gardens, 500-700 square feet in size, that's a return of $260-$364 in year one, alone!

In at least 5 out of the 8 observations (all but Cleveland et al. 1985, and maybe Utzinger and Connolly Harrison 1978), the costs incurred included what was needed to establish a garden, and not simply to maintain a garden. These costs are sure to decrease in subsequent years, as the cost of maintaining a garden is substantially less than start up costs.

Thus, even in the first year after establishment, the net economic benefits of vegetable gardening are positive - and these economic benefits are sure to increase in years two, three and beyond.

The consistent 'winners' in these papers included:

  • salad greens
  • tomatoes
  • beets
  • broccoli
  • potatoes
  • strawberries

These were the fruits and vegetables that yielded the most, in terms of dollars saved by not having to purchase these items. However, to truly get the best value from your vegetable garden, it is important to plant what your family likes to eat."