Gardening Pays Says City Farmer
Gardening For Fun and Profit
By David Smith
August 2, 1988
Raising backyard vegetables can give you a sore back, a clear mind and the freshest of produce, but opinion among weed-and-feeders on whether it will green your bank account remains divided.
Alex Downie, horticulturist at Vandusen Botanical Gardens, says a home garden measuring 15 metres on a standard 10-metre city lot could go a long way to reducing a family’s grocery bill.
Michael Levenston, executive director of City Farmer, a Vancouver non-profit group that promotes urban agriculture, says once you have the tools and your soil is in good shape, you can’t help but save money.
“You can save money from your garden,” he says. “If one head of lettuce is a buck, and you look at how many lettuce seeds are in a package, I can’t see how you can do otherwise.
Other plusses to backyard gardening: You can grow unique varieties of vegetables or herbs that may be expensive to obtain commercially, the produce is free of pesticides that can cause allergic reactions and it will be as fresh as possible when eaten.
“The majority of people who do this are thrilled at what they’re doing,” he adds. “They like what they are doing.”
In Vancouver, says Levenston, there’s even a handful of people who grow edible flowers or herbs for sale to restaurants or grow vegetables organically for re-sale to special customers.
Levenston estimates start-up cost for a 37 square-metre backyard at $120 for the first year for rakes, shears, shovels, seeds, pest controls, watering cans and fertilizer, diminishing to about $40 in the second year.
Maureen “Mickey” Dekker, an employee at Art Knapp’s Plantland in Surrey who teaches gardening, insists growing your own translates into savings.
“You certainly can save money. Everybody should grow something whether on a balcony, a patio or your backyard,” she said, adding that only a few basic tools are needed for home gardening.