Pandemic, high grocery prices lead more Americans to gardening

Pandemic, high grocery prices lead more Americans to gardening

With rising costs and limited options in some produce aisles, even more people are growing their own food after a pandemic-fueled major gardening boom.

If you’re looking to save money on groceries amid record inflation, one solution is to grow your own. The COVID-19 pandemic spawned a major gardening boom, and millions of Americans became new gardeners.

Now with rising costs and limited options in some produce aisles, more people are growing their own food. This planting season, both seed companies and community gardens are seeing steady increases in demand. 

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Seed St. Louis is a nonprofit with hundreds of community garden projects in St. Louis. The nonprofit’s community gardens saw a 40% increase last year, and they’re on track for another 30% increase this spring. 

Varieties of herbs, vegetables, flowers and more are grown at Seed St. Louis community gardens. (Fox News / Fox News)

Ron Brown works at one of Seed St. Louis’s community gardens and is passionate about his work.

"There’s nothing better than a homegrown tomato. The satisfaction of planting a seed and seeing it sprout in a couple days — the magic of nature — it’s safe to say that it’s an obsession," said Brown. 

Inflation and supply chain issues have led to rising prices and made some produce hard to find. Brown says gardening gives people a sense of control and helps them save money.

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"It is cheaper. If you can buy seeds and grow your own food, it’s cheaper," said Seed St. Louis CEO Matt Schindler.

Baker Creek Heirloom Seed Co. based in Mansfield, Missouri, is the nation’s No. 1 direct-to-consumer seed company. Owner Jere Gettle says when the pandemic hit seed sales doubled.

Baker Creek Heirloom Seed Co. sells seeds all over the world. (Fox News / Fox News)

"Whenever there is uncertainty, people turn back to being a little more food secure on their own properties, but also it’s a way to relieve some stress," said Gettle.

Gettle says the company has not had a break since, especially with the rising price of food in recent months. 

"As inflation started happening, it’s just keeping the interest in seeds strong. So, even currently, we’re still a little behind on orders," said Gettle.

Community gardeners at work in Ferguson, Mo. (Fox News / Fox News)

The company’s seed sales this year are on pace to set a record with sales growing 25% per month. Brown says buying seeds makes a lot of sense. 

"For a $10 investment they can get hundreds of dollars worth of produce out of it," Brown said.

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Gardening can also help with physical and mental health. 

"There is both the benefit of the cost, and also the benefit of actually growing your own food and being outside and being part of that process," said Schindler. 

Fresh oregano sprouts at a community garden in Ferguson, Mo. (Fox News / Fox News)

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In a Seed St. Louis community garden, a standard 4-by-12-foot raised gardening bed can produce 1,152 servings of vegetables in one growing season. The food access impact through the nonprofit’s network of gardens and orchards is 2.3 million food servings grown each year.

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