Home gardening surge continues, offers relief from inflation

CHESTERFIELD TOWNSHIP, Mich. (WXYZ) — It’s no secret that home gardening boomed once the pandemic hit.

Nurseries and garden stores across the country and here in metro Detroit have experienced supply shortages as seeds and equipment fly off the shelves.

In a report published this year, researchers from the University of California, Davis found that at the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, people were gardening for a variety of reasons, including having more free time and wanting to connect with nature. nature.

The survey, which was conducted over the summer of 2020, also indicated that 81% of respondents had concerns about access to food, particularly exposure to the virus when obtaining food. , as well as selection and quantities at the store.

Now, more than two years into the pandemic, inflation is higher than many people have seen in their lifetime. One of the areas we feel the most? Food.

According to the USDA Food Price Outlook, purchases at grocery stores increased 10.8% in April compared to April 2021. This includes all food purchases at grocery stores, not just produce.

James Homiak grew up gardening with his family. He recently started a new small plot at his home in Chesterfield Township.

Homiak was pushed into gardening initially not for the financial savings, but for the difference in quality and taste of the produce.

“It’s not the same thing. Having real produce and having this real tomato is a big difference in taste,” he said, overlooking rows of heirlooms, roma and steaks.

As for his grocery bill, “I mean, everything is expensive in stores these days,” Homiak told Action News.

“A tomato plant costs about $2. So in the long run it’s a huge saving,” he said.

Homiak estimates that he spent between $60 and $80 upfront to start his last garden.

In 2009, the National Gardening Association released a report that showed that an initial investment of $70 in a vegetable garden can yield an average return on investment of $600.

Of course, how much money you actually save on a vegetable garden depends on several variables; such as the type of crops you grow, the soil you use, the equipment you already have and the size of the plot you garden.

Dave Roberts is the community garden manager for Midtown Detroit, Inc. He also said interest in gardening skyrocketed at the start of the pandemic, and for a variety of reasons ranging from more free time to relief from the anxiety and community building.

Access to fresh food, he said, was also an important factor.

“We’ve always had a lot of people and a waiting list to get in, but in 2020 it really exploded,” he said, speaking from the North Cass Community Garden in Midtown.

The 98 plots are gardened by around 150 people. The current waiting list is two years.

“We get a lot of new gardeners. People trying it for the first time in their life,” Roberts said.

He said a number of people use the garden to complete their shopping.

Roberts grows a variety of vegetables to eat and share.

“It feeds me and my friends, and sometimes I give produce to people I don’t even know,” he said as he inspected freshly harvested heads of lettuce.

The Channel 7 Community Garden is not new this year, but the plots behind the station are also full, including with novice gardeners.

Homiak is also using a rain barrel to water his garden, which will save him energy costs.

And canning, something he grew up growing up with his grandmother as a kid, will soon be making a comeback. He found three-gallon cans to start pickling on Facebook Marketplace, but he’s still on the hunt for two-piece can lids, which remain in short supply due to a surge in demand that began in 2020.

“Kind of like a family business I hope and other than that it’s cost savings and again it’s knowing what you eat,” he said of his business. canning.

Newell Brands is now the exclusive supplier of Ball canning products. Ball’s website states:

“We have increased production, safely implemented additional shifts in our manufacturing facilities, streamlined production to prioritize and maximize production of best-selling canning jars and lids, eliminated production curtailment scheduled off-season and expanded our packing sites to replenish inventory as we go.Through these efforts to maximize supply, mitigate consumer disruptions and meet growing consumer demand, we can confirm that we are working in continuously to supply all customers in time for the canning season.

Action News has contacted Newell and Ball for an update on its production and supply of canning lids.

Click here to learn more about the North Cass Community Garden.

Interested in trying gardening? Click here for tips on how to get started.


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