Britain's National Trust Urges Home Gardening

February 23, 2009 11:35 AM
by Sarah Amandolare
In Britain, homeowners and businesses are being strongly encouraged to grow their own food, another indication of the tie between the recession and gardening.

Britain and United States See Home Gardening Surge


The Times of London reports that Britain's National Trust has initiated a campaign urging homes and businesses to plant their own vegetable patches. The Trust will also teach gardening skills to interested parties, using "former kitchen gardens of country homes." Allotments for gardeners are being created on National Trust farmland, as well as on "vacant land next to estates" and from "traditional walled gardens."

Director-general of the National Trust, Dame Fiona Reynolds, told the Times that the gardening program "tapped into a mood caused by the recession with people shifting their interest from materialism to real things such as spending time with family outdoors."

That sentiment is echoed in the United States, where more Americans have turned to growing vegetables at home to donate, or to use for their own food as a way to save money.

According to the Garden Writers Association Foundation, vegetable gardening  is a "significant new trend" in the United States, based on a national survey completed in February 2008. Local nurseries from Minneapolis to Pittsburgh have seen a surge in seed orders for greens, peas and beets.

Prompted by a “shaky economy, concerns about food safety and an urge to reconnect with the land,” a new generation of gardeners has emerged; and many are young, female and urban, said an article in the Minneapolis Star Tribune.

In Detroit, however, urban gardening has been called a signal of decay, rather than a hopeful new practice. Residents of the Motor City are using agriculture to make use of vast stretches of vacant land. Detroit's 138 square miles are home to "enough abandoned lots to fill the city of San Francisco," reports Bloomberg. In an effort to make its unused land more productive, nearly six acres of vacant land out of an estimated 17,000 have been turned into 500 food-producing "mini-farms."

Business expert Jay W. Sukits of the University of Pittsburgh credits the “triple whammy” of high gas prices, ethanol production and exorbitant diesel fuel costs for the increased interest in vegetable gardening.

Over the past several months, the demand for ethanol has led to a surge in prices of dairy products in the United States. In addition, the sub-prime mortgage crisis, surging inflation and unemployment have made it tougher for Americans to feed their families.

In addition to feeding themselves with fruits and vegetables grown in the backyard, more Americans are growing produce for their neighbors. Programs such as "Grow a Row" encourage home gardeners to cultivate extra produce for donation at local food banks and pantries.

Background: Americans struggling to pay the bills

Related Topics: Urban and school farming

Reference: The Garden Writers Association


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