According to a nationwide survey conducted this past January by the National Gardening Association, 19 million Americans are planning to grow a vegetable garden this summer. This includes more than 7 million people who say they will be growing their own food for the first time.
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Why this surge of interest in growing vegetables? Tough economic times and rising food prices would seem like the obvious reasons – as would the expanding demand for fresh organic food. But a recent email survey of our own customers points to a different story.
This annual survey, which is conducted every February, garnered a record 25,000 responses this year. The top five reasons people gave for gardening were not about saving money or food quality. They were all about feeling good: enjoying time outdoors; being connected to nature; being around flowers and other plants, relaxation, and peace of mind.
We also asked survey respondents about their top environmental concerns. A high percentage of answers reflected a desire to be connected to the land and to be good stewards of the environment. Conservation concerns among respondents include eating locally grown food (55.2 percent), reducing carbon in the atmosphere (60.7 percent), and preserving wildlife habitat (70.8 percent.)
A total of 84.5 percent of respondents reported that they feel it is very important or somewhat important to buy organic foods and to use organic gardening practices, pesticide management and property maintenance methods.
The way customers responded to this survey strongly supports our company’s founding premise that when people garden, it increases their awareness of and understanding about the environment.
People are discovering ways to bring gardening into their lives, even when their growing space is limited. Container gardening on decks and patios has grown 100 percent since we conducted our first survey in 2005.
Survey respondents also tell us they plan to spend more time in their gardens this year: 54.7 percent say they expect to garden more than they did in 2008, while just 3.1 percent plan to garden less. How many hours each week will they be in their gardens? The majority of those surveyed (37.9 percent) said it will be 4 to 8 hours each week, and 33.0 percent expect to log 8 to 16 hours per week.
As gardeners, we love the healthy vegetables and beautiful flowers that our gardens produce. But what we learned in this year’s survey is that being in our gardens is what we love best.
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