How to save $500 or more a year growing your own fruits and vegetables

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Woman in vegetable garden
Image Credit: Dreamstime

With the “farm-to-table” movement sweeping the U.S. over the last decade or so, more and more Americans are rediscovering the tremendous joy and sense of accomplishment that growing their own fruits and vegetables can bring to their table.

In fact, according to the National Gardening Association, by the middle of this decade around 35% of American households were growing food either at home or in community gardens. That was a 200% increase over a period of less than 10 years!

But aside from the simple pleasure of eating food that you’ve planted, tended to and harvested yourself, growing your own fruits and vegetables can make a huge positive difference somewhere else: your wallet.

Here’s how much money you can save by growing food yourself

Contrary to what you might think, it doesn’t take a ton of space to grow enough food to put a serious dent in your grocery bill.

Consider this: According to this white paper, a small-scale garden should average a yield of about 1/2 pound of food per square foot per year.

That means if you can carve out 20 feet by 25 feet of space (500 square feet) in your yard to garden, you could end up with 250 pounds of fresh produce on your table per year. If that produce costs an average of $2/pound at the grocery store, that’s $500 in savings per year from your modest-size garden!

According to the most recent Consumer Expenditure Survey from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the average U.S. household spend $837 on fruits and vegetables in 2017. So that backyard garden or community garden plot could help you grow 1/2 to 2/3 of all the fruits and veggies you need over the course of a year.

Naturally, what you’re able to actually grow where you live is going to depend on your climate and soil conditions, but you get the idea.

Now, let’s say you don’t have 500 feet to spare. Maybe you only have enough room to grow tomatoes in containers, like this:

Growing vegetables in containers

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If you can manage enough space for two 4×2 foot containers and you plant cherry tomatoes (a high-yielding fruit), you could expect to pick somewhere around 50 pounds of fruit over the course of a growing season. At around $2.00/pound in the store (more for organic), you’ve grown $100 worth of food in about 16 square feet of space!

Final thought

Of course, there is effort involved in growing your own food, but ask almost anyone who does it and they will tell you it’s a labor of love. There’s nothing quite like serving your friends and loved ones the fruit (and vegetables!) of your own labor.

If you’ve never done it before, don’t be intimidated. You’ll find plenty of help online or from your local cooperative extension office. Happy growing and bon appétit!

Do you grow your own fruits and vegetables either to save money or just because you love doing it? We’d love to hear your story in the comments below!

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