WILLISTON, Vt. — During the past five years there’s been a significant shift toward more Americans growing their own food in home and community gardens, increasing from 36 million households in 2008 to 42 million in 2013.
That’s a 17 percent increase and represents the highest level of food gardening in more than a decade, according to a special National Gardening Association report, Garden to Table: A 5-Year Look at Food Gardening in America.
Millennials get in the act
The report shows that more young people, particularly millennials (ages 18-34), are the fastest growing population segment of food gardeners. In 2008 there were 8 million millennial food gardeners. That figure rose to 13 million in 2013, an increase of 63 percent.
Millennials also nearly doubled their spending on food gardening, from $632 million in 2008 to $1.2 billion in 2013. The report found that more households with children participated in food gardening.
Additionally, there was a 29 percent increase in food gardening by people living in urban areas, up from 7 million in 2008 to 9 million in 2013.
Two million more households also reported participating in community gardening in 2013 than 2008, a 200 percent increase in five years.
“This report clearly shows that there truly is a food revolution taking place in America,” said Mike Metallo, president and CEO of the National Gardening Association. We are seeing more people, particularly young people, actively engaged in growing their own food. The growth in just five years is pretty spectacular.”
As the nation’s leading nonprofit in gardening education, the National Gardening Association has published annual statistics on food gardening in America since 1978.
This special report examines data collected from 2008-13, providing an in-depth look at trends, statistics and analytical data about food gardening during that period. The data collected shows nearly all categories of food gardening with major increases during the past five years.
Additional highlights from the 5-year report include:
- One in 3 households are now growing food — the highest overall participation and spending levels seen in a decade.
- Americans spent $3.5 billion on food gardening in 2013 — up from $2.5 billion in 2008 — a 40 percent increase in five years.
- From 2008 to 2013, the number of home gardens increased by 4 million to 37 million households, while community gardens tripled from 1 million to 3 million, a 200 percent increase.
- Households with incomes under $35,000 participating in food gardening grew to 11 million — up 38 percent from 2008.
The National Gardening Association associates the rise in food gardening to several reasons: an improving economy; strong national leadership, including the launch of the Let’s Move initiative and White House Kitchen Garden by First Lady Michelle Obama during the time period; action by federal agencies such as the U.S. Department of Agriculture and the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services to increase awareness and educational efforts toward food gardening and more engagement and public-private partnerships through organizations like the National Gardening Association, to promote and build food gardens in communities across the country.
“It’s very exciting to see more young people and families involved in growing and eating their own food through food gardening,” said Metallo. “National leadership, particularly from the First Lady, has certainly been an important factor in the rise in these numbers. That consistent message over time makes a tremendous difference and helps fuel more community involvement in gardening.”