How much is it really worth?
It’s been a couple of years since I consistently weighed and accounted for the produce that we collect from our kitchen garden. This year our summer garden is not as jam-packed as usual. There is space to add many many more plants. The sparse planting I have in place this year makes it a valid comparison to a regular suburban backyard vegetable garden. It is a good point of reference and the results are feasible for other urban gardeners to achieve and expect.
We have a decent sized suburban back yard with 40 square meters of growing space. At the moment approximately 1/3 of that is not being utilised.
The information presented is collated from the end of December into January – a period of summer in the temperate climate area of Geelong Victoria. This analysis was conducted over a two week period and represents an average harvest over the summer period. While the product being collected each week may vary slightly it is a good indication of a normal harvest.
We grow our herbs and vegetables organically. When we shop for fresh vegetables we do it at our local store. They do not sell organic produce. The prices I have based my calculations on are based on me having to purchase that same vegetable from our local grocer.
I have the pricing I used on file if anyone is particularly keen to find out the $ per kilo of each item I used. You can ask in the comments below.
Cost to grow:
I did not do an analysis of the cost to produce the vegetables we are growing. This year’s summer plants have all been raised from seed so the cost per plant is cents. Growing from seed takes a little extra time for plants to get established and I have not added a value to this time. Rather than complicate things I can say that I have spent much less time than usual in our garden over the past 12 months. This has been due to work commitments. During summer I would usually spend an average of 2-4 hours per week in the garden. This summer I have barely have spent 1 hour per week (thus the under utilised space – and weeds that you can not see here!) .
The herbs were a little tricky to price as I tend to pick leaves here and there as I need them. The bonus of growing your own is that you don’t have to purchase a whole bunch and find a use for them if you just want to use a few leaves.
Week 1 total harvests:
- Beetroot: 190 grams
- Carrot: 200 grams
- Capsicum: 1.128 kg
- Chilli: 28 grams
- Cucumber: 590 grams
- Herbs: 70 grams
- Lemons: 3.974 kg
- Lettuce: 166 grams
- Radish: 240 grams
- Spinach: 100 grams
- Tomatoes: 957 grams
- Zucchini: 1.3 kg
Week 2 harvests:
- Apricots: 1.230 kg
- Capsicum: 379 grams
- Cucumber: 806 grams
- Herbs: 119 grams
- Kale: 60 grams
- Lemons: 565 grams
- Lettuce: 176 grams
- Peach: 1.969 kg
- Radish: 80 grams
- Rhubarb: 2.576 kg
- Tomato: 1.984 kg
- Zucchini: 1.515 kg
Over a period of two weeks from the end of December to the end of week 1 of January the total amount of product harvested was: 20.404 kilos of fresh food we had grown in our vegetable garden. Doubled to represent a month it would be 40.80 kilos!
Produce was collected on a daily basis to use in our family meals.
Additional vegetables purchased:
I shopped for corn, sweet potato, carrot and beans during the two week period plus fruit for the kids snacks.
$130.74 is the overall amount I attributed to the produce I collected during the fortnight. If this 2 week period was multiplied to represent a month it equates to $260 worth of vegetables and herbs not purchased from a store. Thirty family meals made with home grown, organically grown produce and very few trips to the store to purchase fresh food.
I am not sure that you can place a figure on that. You only need to read an article on the “dirty dozen” to get a general understanding of the value of clean, home grown vegetables, uncontaminated by chemical residue. I shared some tips for avoiding the “dirty dozen” with Blah Blah Magazine a short time ago. You can read them here.
While there were items I harvested in that two week period, such as the apricots, peaches and lemons that were a one off harvest for the season. The following weeks they were replaced by an increase in tomatoes, cucumbers, zucchini and other items thus overall being representative of volume collected.
If you are the parent who does the family food shopping and planning I am sure you have a sense of the real cost of fresh food. It is not just the amount of money that you spend when you shop. It is also the time taken to plan the meals, make a list of what you need, and travel to the store. Based on the convenience of being able to collect what you need for a family meal from the garden each day the value for me becomes THAT. I don’t need to factor in those activities to my day. I simply grab what I need from the garden.
This approach to fresh food is convenient, I know the food is nutrient dense and also free from chemical residue. It is the best food I could be putting on my family table. How do you place a value on that?
If you are yet to start you own vegetable garden I hope that you are now ready to get started. See the side bar on the right hand side of this page and sign up to get your free guide to 6 Easy to Grow Vegetables. You can do the same in your backyard.
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