Grow Your Own Trend’s Surprising Result

You’ve probably heard that one of the side effects of COVID has been lots of people growing their own food. Working from home, or not working at all, people have found the time and motivation to start food gardens.

Hashtags mushroomed – #growyourown #vegetablegarden #victorygarden #growyourownfood #homestead #urbangarden

Vegetable patches have sprouted all over – postage size city yards, suburban yards, decks, old hot tubs. Anecdotal evidence from seed companies, garden centers and Google searches is that the number of beginning gardeners has exploded.

“I’ve been in the business for 40 years and I’ve never seen anything like it,” George Ball, chairman of Burpee Seeds, said. “The uptick was a tsunami, a hurricane.”

Here’s the really good news though – this bumper crop of new gardeners has helped increase the sales of local SPIN farmers, and business at their farmers markets is booming. How can that be?

“I have found that there is an incredible demand for produce this year. I was wondering about the demand side due to the huge increase in the interest in gardening. In spring so many stores were sold out of anything related to gardening. I have heard many tales of woe from would-be gardeners. Many people discovered there is a great deal more to growing than putting a few seeds into the ground,” says Ray Derksen, who’s been a SPIN farmer for 6 years.

“I have heard of a lot of people that wanted to grow their own food but it didn’t do as good as they hoped and are back at the market with new respect for the growers,” says John Greenwood, who’s been a SPIN farmer for 8 years.

Even if they get their plants to grow, people are finding out that it takes talent, training, skill and dedicated work to produce enough to fill their tables and meet a significant part of their food needs. But there’s good news in this, too.

Some of these first-time gardeners are discovering they really do have green thumbs and want to develop them to create a home-based farming business. That could have a huge positive economic impact on communities throughout the US. Here’s how.

In a 2013 survey done by the National Gardening Association, 42 million households reported growing their own food. While this number has increased since the pandemic, let’s use the 2013 number as a baseline. Let’s say an infinitesimal number of them decide to grow food as their livelihood, .5%. That would mean 210,000 new farmers!

The farm reform movement has been working to change the food system for over a quarter century. What’s holding back progress towards the kind of sustainable/regenerative/organic food system that more and more consumers are saying they want is not enough farmers serving the needs of their local communities.

While the gardening path hasn’t been the traditional route to a farming career, you’re on it, if you start looking at your gardening through the eyes of a SPIN farmer.