After studying the results of national surveys showing that more Americans are growing their own food than at anytime in the last decade, we did some additional research to learn more about people who grow their own food indoors, or would like to. Here’s what we found.
Nearly 25% more Americans grew their own food in 2015 than in 2008, according to National Gardening Survey results.
The 2008 survey indicated that 36 million U.S. households were growing food, compared to more than 44 million in the most recent survey report, released by the National Gardening Market Research Company in April.
What’s driving this increase? We took a closer look at statistics from the 2016 survey and from a 2014 National Gardening Association (NGA) report, Garden to Table: A 5-Year Look at Gardening in America, which points to five key reasons:
1. The Great Recession and Strong Leadership.
The NGA report shows that 2009 was the first year that 20% of survey respondents, or 8 million households, started growing food. Economic uncertainty in the wake of the Great Recession likely had a major influence.
The report also credits government leadership at that time:
Perhaps not coincidentally, the White House Kitchen Garden and the Let’s Move Initiative was launched by First Lady Michelle Obama in 2009, along with other U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) initiatives encouraging Americans to grow and eat healthy foods.
2. The Millennial Generation is Getting Into Food Growing in a Big Way.
The number of households headed by Millennials (ages 19 to 35 today) growing food grew 63% from 2008 to 2013, the NGA report revealed.
And it appears the momentum has continued. In the 2016 survey report, Millennial households comprised 5,000 of the 6,000 who grew food for the first time in 2015. In part, this is simply because Millennials are coming of age, buying homes, starting families, etc.
But it also seems clear that Millennials are developing a new health consciousness — a new awareness about where their food comes from, how it’s grown, and the carbon footprint it creates.
3. More Households With Children are Growing Food.
The arrival of Millennials, now the largest living generation, has also helped increase the percentage of food growing households with children 25% from 2008 to 2013.
Learning how to plant, nurture and harvest your own food is a powerful experience for kids. So, it’s a good bet the children of Millennials will further the trend.
4. An Increasing Number of Urban Gardeners is Growing More Food in Less Space.
Food growing households in urban areas increased 29% from 7 million in 2008 to 9 million in 2013, according to the NGA report, which also concluded:
More gardeners are also growing food in smaller spaces with the majority of gardens being 100 square feet or less. This includes a 46% increase in container gardening which has allowed people to grow fresh vegetables almost anywhere regardless of individual access to a traditional garden setting.
5. People Want a Better Deal on Better Food. (Who Knew, Right?)
The top four reasons cited by NGA survey respondents in 2014 for growing food at home were:
58% – Better tasting food
57% – Save money
54% – Better quality
49% – Food safety
Eco Garden House Survey: Why Are Gardeners Growing Indoors?
A survey of gardeners sponsored by the Eco Garden House mirrors some of the NGA’s findings, and sheds some light on the advantages of growing at least some food indoors.
To get a sense of indoor growing trends, we surveyed over 200 gardeners that broke down into three basic groups:
- Gardeners who have only outdoor gardens but are interested in indoor food growing (54 respondents)
- Gardeners who grow food only in indoor greenhouses or grow tents (35)
- Gardeners who grow food outdoors and in an indoor greenhouse or grow tent (117)
Among the questions we asked was why these gardeners grow (or want to grow) food in an indoor greenhouse or grow tent. The results:
The top reasons experienced indoor growers gave for using an indoor greenhouse or grow tent (ranked by total respondents who chose each reason — they could choose more than one):
83 – I wanted to grow year-round
72 – I wanted to grow herbs/vegetables for cooking
67 – I wanted to start seedlings before outdoor season
The top reasons gardeners who aren’t growing food indoors gave for wanting to grow in an indoor greenhouse or grow tent:
38 – I want to grow year-round
38 – I want to grow herbs/vegetables for cooking
32 – I want to start seedlings before outdoor season
The two groups chose the same top reasons for indoor gardening, which we expected based on our customer base so far.
We found it interesting that most of the survey respondents (117 out of 206) who use indoor greenhouses also have outdoor gardens. They’re using the two methods in concert, harvesting food indoors in the winter, and they’re growing seedlings to plant outdoors in the spring.
If you use an indoor greenhouse or grow tent to grow food, please tell us what you grow, what you’ve learned, and what you’d like to see in an indoor growing unit. Or, if you’re not growing food inside and you’d like to, feel welcome to ask questions we can answer personally or in this blog.
Are you ready to grow your garden year-round?