Planting A Vegetable Garden Can Help Retirees Save Money
Among the “5 Ways Retirees Should Protect Their Money During Retirement”, there are two reasons why planting a garden ranks high on my list of recommendations for retirees.
First, are the many health benefits of gardening. Second, you will save money by growing your own food. Need I say more?
Let’s review the economic costs and benefits of a home vegetable garden. An analysis of data published by the Journal of Extension, having a home vegetable garden is profitable. Assuming that the fair market value of garden labor is excluded from calculated costs, a home vegetable garden produce on average $677 worth of fruits and vegetables, beyond the cost of $238 worth of materials and supplies.
Another study by the National Gardening Association found that home gardeners can expect a return of $8 worth of produce for each $1 they invest in seeds, starts, fertilizers and pest control. In fact, Roger Dorion of Kitchen Gardeners International calculated the cost benefit of his home garden, which generate a profit of more than $2,000 with a return on investment of $852 percent. Now that’s a lot of green!
Setting The Right Expectation –Making Money Is Not The Goal
You must have the right perspective about gardening. Even though you can save money with a home garden, the money that you save by not having to purchase fruits and vegetables at the grocery store is not commensurate with the value that you may place on your time. If you garden then do it because you will save money. Do it for the health benefits, but don’t focus on how much your time is worth.
According to Dan Allen who authored a blog post entitled, “Don’t Start A Veggie Garden To Save Money”, if you have a plot of land to garden that is 96 square feet and you spend 3 hours per week working in your garden, with the cost of supplies running you about $50 per year and you net 48 pounds per year (approx. ½ pound per square foot) with a $3 per pound value for your produce, you would have grown $282 worth of food and invested $50 and 156 hours of your time.
This equates to $1.57 per hour. Unless you own a farm and have extremely low labor costs gardening is not going to make you financially rich, but you will gain wealth in terms of the quality time that you could spend with your children and grandchildren.
Again, by gardening you will save money. In fact, Burpee Seed Co. estimates that for every $50 a family spends on seeds their produce will be worth nearly $1,300.
I am very grateful to have been able to work with my grandparents in their backyard vegetable gardens as boy growing up in the Northern California Bay Area. As a result of what I learned watching and helping my grandparents, I planted a fairly large vegetable garden in my own backyard when I was in elementary school. I still remember the proud look on my grandfather “Papa Odus” face when he saw what I had accomplished.
Let’s Not Forget The Health Benefits of Gardening
Being sedentary isn’t the best thing for someone who is retired. Like daily exercise, it is important to be active. Gardening is a great way to get exercise because it requires daily activity and maintenance, bending, squatting, kneeling, standing up, carrying tools, moving dirt, etc.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), moderate-intensity level activity for 2.5 hours each week can reduce the risk for obesity, high blood pressure, type 2 diabetes, osteoporosis, heart disease, stroke, depression, colon cancer and premature death. The CDC considers gardening a moderate-intensity level activity, and can help you to achieve that 2.5 hour goal each week.
Additionally, those that choose gardening as their moderate-intensity exercise are more likely to exercise 40-50 minutes longer on average than those that choose activities like walking or biking. By venturing outdoors to various community garden spaces around Michigan, you not only assist in keeping their community vibrant, but become healthier in the process.
- “A ten percent increase in nearby green space was found to decrease a person’s health complaints in an amount equivalent to a five year reduction in that person’s age” according to the Gardening Matters nonprofit of Minneapolis’ page, “Multiple Benefits of Community Gardens.”
- Exercising both the arms and legs is recommended to help prevent illnesses like coronary disease. With most everyday activities only involving the arms, gardening is a great way to incorporate the entire body while exercising.
- According to the journal Biological Psychiatry, some experts even say the fresh air can help prevent Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) and result in higher test scores among students.
With the exception of owning a farm with cows, goats and chicken, a retiree can add years to their life and savings to their bank accounts by starting a home garden. More importantly, think about the opportunity to share your freshly home grown produce with family and friends. Now that we know planting a vegetable garden can help retirees save money, it is also not a bad way to spread the love!
Our list of “Five Things Retirees Should Do To Protect Their Money During Retirement” is simply a good place for retirees to begin, but it is not meant to be exhaustive. There are many other ways for retirees to save money on a regular basis.