US Households Grow Home Food Gardens

Reader Contribution by Staff
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We asked you recently what percentage of people in the U.S. you would guess grow a food garden. Nearly half of you guessed that the answer was 10 percent or less. Here are the complete results:

Without looking it up, what percentage of people living in the U.S. would you guess grow a food garden? 

1. Probably 10 percent or less. It seems the norm is relying on supermarkets for food, and so many people live in the city these days. 47.49% (199 votes)  

2. I’d guess around 20 percent. 32.7% (137 votes)

3. About 30 to 40 percent. 13.37% (56 votes)  

4. I think it’s 50 percent or more. The local food movement has really been gaining traction, and it seems more and more people are growing at least some of their own food. 6.44% (27 votes)  

You may be surprised to learn, according to the National Gardening Association, 31 percent of all U.S. households participated in food gardening in 2008. All too often we are bombarded with discouraging news about our food system: rising rates of childhood diabetes, salmonella outbreaks and genetically modified salmon, to name a few. We at MOTHER EARTH NEWS are happy we can all celebrate that over a third of American households are taking food production back into their own hands.

Of the 36 million gardening households, more than half reported growing their food because it tastes better and saves them money on groceries. Tomatoes were by far the most popular vegetable, grown in 86 percent of gardens nationwide. Cucumbers came in second, followed by sweet peppers, beans, carrots, summer squash, onions, hot peppers, lettuce and peas.

The number of organic gardens — those tended with only all-natural fertilizer, insect and weed control — rose from an estimated 5 million households in 2004 to over 12 million in 2008. Nearly 90 percent of households polled by the 2008 Environmental Lawn and Garden Survey responded that environmentally-friendly lawn and garden maintenance was important. This concern for the environment was also the main reason cited by polled organic gardeners as the basis for abstaining from using chemicals in their food gardens.

With the number of home gardens expected to rise in the coming years, MOTHER EARTH NEWS has an array of gardening articles and advice. Search our Grow It! blog and our Organic Gardening Archive for all your gardening questions, and to start — or expand — your own food garden.

Jennifer Kongsis the Managing Editor at MOTHER EARTH NEWS magazine. When she’s not working at the magazine, she’s likely working in her garden, on the local running trails or in her kitchen instead. You can find Jennifer on Twitteror .

Photo from Flickr/Chiot’s Run