Friday, April 23, 2010

Does gardening save you money?

Our slapdash vegie garden, this morning, covered in dew

Whenever we have friends visit us from Sydney and beyond, especially those who visit only infrequently, part of the agenda is a wander around our vegie garden, the orchard and vineyard, finishing off with a stop to say hello to the chooks and the sheep.
Every so often someone will remark "I suppose you save lots of money doing this".
I find this a difficult statement to answer. We've been growing our own for so long now, I wouldn't have a clue what it would cost to feed us if we had to buy everything. Intuitively, I know this is probably right. Last night, all the vegies on our plate came from the garden, which is is not unusual around here. Of course we must be saving money.
It's not that straightforward, though. For example, I've been eating rhubarb and yogurt for breakfast for the last few months now, because our rhubarb plants have been so prolific. At Coles the other day, though, I noticed that a bunch of rhubarb cost $4.98 for 6 skinny stalks. If I had to buy rhubarb at the price, would I be eating it quite so often? Not likely. So am I saving money, growing something I wouldn't buy? (As an aside, each of my rhubarb plants must be worth about $100 each, at that rate!).
What I do say confidently is that we eat a lot better for less because of our garden. Our eggs, vegies and fruit are super-fresh (that is when the chooks aren't off the lay, as they are at the moment), we eat vegies that we probably wouldn't buy if we didn't grow them. When it comes to buying meat, I figure what I save on the vegie bill I can spend on the meat bill, so I buy smaller amounts of better meat, organic where possible.
But really, the benefits of growing your own go way beyond the dollars you save. The freshness of the vegetables. The knowledge that they are grown organically. The satisfaction of harvesting something you've grown. Expending energy in a constructive way - way better than hitting the treadmill (yawn). Contributing in some small way to reducing reliance on fossil fuels to grow and transport your food. Being able to share the produce around to your friends and neighbours. Appreciation for those whose life it is to grow food. To me, this is where the value of growing food is greatest.
The bottom line is if someone came along and showed me that I wasn't saving a cent by growing my own, would I change my ways? No way.

What about you?


Jan said...

As you say, the benefits of gardening cannot be counted in monetary terms.

David said...

gardening only save money in two ways first we use to clean our garden by ourself and second we can start saving tips

achan said...

I thought of you when I saw this in my inbox this week, it is a great site and the jam looks great too. I think I'll have to search for a new rhubarb plant!

No gardening doesn't save me money on food but makes me feel happier!

Paola said...

Achan - thanks for the link...I'll definitely check it out.