Are we in the middle of a gardening revolution?



Every few days, I check Lexis/Nexis, Google News, portal/compendium websites, and other sources to gather gardening news from around the world. Maybe I missed it before, but it seems that more stories than ever before are reporting on the growing popularity of vegetable gardening. Here’s a sampling, and, believe, me, I didn’t have to do much digging (sorry):

Peterson said the size of his gardening classes has zoomed from “zero to 60” in the past two years. At the same time, Baker Nursery in Phoenix reports a marked increase in sales of vegetable seeds and plants.
“Consumers are paying attention to how they can save at the grocery store by shopping at the nursery,” Baker’s Bonnie Higgins said. “The price of food is sending them back to the garden.”
—Karen Fernau, “Food safety, prices spur a rise in backyard gardens,” Arizona Republic, 3/8

Normally, the financial aspect of vegetable gardens is not something at the top of my list when I advocate reasons for this undertaking, but I had to admit, in this day of tight economic times, gardens can help stretch the family budget.
—David Holms, “Vegetable gardens make financial sense,” Ocala Star-Banner, 3/8

Not since the days of the bountiful victory gardens of the First and Second World Wars has vegetable gardening been so popular.The reason for growing veggies back then was to ease the pressure on public food supply. It was also considered a good morale booster.
Today, people want to grow vegetables for different reasons.
—Steve Whysall, “Veggie-mania,” Vancouver Sun

I’m treating it like my practice run–I want to learn the ways of the soil now, while it is not yet necessary for my survival to do so, and be able to move out into the country or an eco-village when I graduate and hit the ground running. On my next visit down to Fredericksburg, I will be tilling and digging up the land and adding fertilizer. We plan to grow sweet corn, squash, zucchini, beets and the occasional herb, but that’s just for starters.
—Joe Holmes, Hopscotch, Fredericksburg Free Lance-Star (Holmes is a college student columnist), 2/20

Home vegetable gardens appear to be booming as a result of the twin movements to eat local and pinch pennies. Although the 2008 planting season is still largely in the planning stages, it appears vegetable seed sales will be up significantly from year-ago figures, said Barb Melera, president of D. Landreth Seed Co., in New Freedom, Pa.
—Dean Fosdick, “Want to cut your food bill? Pull out your shovel and plant a garden,” North Andover Eagle Tribune (AP), 2/24

This is wonderful hearing, particularly in view of the contradictory news of gardening’s decline as a hobby. While vegetable gardening will never be a priority for me, I would like nothing better than seeing rows of lawns replaced by beautiful heirloom tomatoes, carrots, lettuces, cucumbers, and squash.

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Elizabeth Licata

Elizabeth Licata has been a regular writer for  Garden Rant since 2007, after contributing a guest rant about the overuse of American flags in front gardens. She lives and gardens in Buffalo, N.Y., which, far from the frozen wasteland many assume it to be, is a lush paradise of gardens, historic architecture, galleries, museums, theaters, and fun. As editor of Buffalo Spree magazine,  Licata helps keep Western New Yorkers apprised about what is happening in their region. She is also a freelance writer and art curator, who’s been published in Fine Gardening, Horticulture, ArtNews, Art in America, the Village Voice, and many other publications. She does regularly radio segments for the local NPR affiliate, WBFO.

Licata is involved with Garden Walk Buffalo, the largest free garden tour in the US and possibly the world,and has written the text for a book about Garden Walk. She has also written and edited several art-related books. Contact Elizabeth: ealicata at


  1. I must admit you can count us in to that change not instead of flowers but we have always grown tomatoes, and cucumber but last autumn dug over a fair size patch and spread with manure ready to plant this year .
    Reasons are multiple
    1 vegetables in local stores are becoming better in looks but less taste
    2 Prices are increasing
    3 there is a cold wind of recession looming and we wanted to have a start incase of?


  2. This is my first year veggie gardening. So why now? I want to wash the dirt of my veggies…not the chemicals! All the food recalls~especially on “fresh” veggies made me decide this was the year to give my kids “real” veggies! I wondered if I was the only newbie but thanks to this post I realize there are many veggie gardener’s just starting out.

  3. I’m still relatively young (at 31) but I am seeing a resurgence of gardening in people younger than I. I’ve only gotten my “dirty manicure” for 7 years now, but these newbie gardeners constantly turn to me for advice, whether it be something as simple as how to grow herbs (which, OK, I failed at my first two years running)or how someone can grow as much as possible in pots on a patio or deck.

    Mostly, the younger crowd is concerned about pesticides and decreased nutrition in their food. For instance, it’s reported that to get the same nutrition from an apple as you did from one in 1940, you would now have to eat three. That’s a pretty sad state of affairs. Add to that the fact that so much of our food is pasturized or irradiated (thus losing MORE of its nutrients) we are essentially eating “dead food” – which will do us no wonders for our health, even if we are eating “healthy”.

    The only solution then, is to grow it yourself.

  4. Remember, it was here and at other blogs that we first started talking about how the main stream media was bemoaning the “death of gardening”. We said no, that there was an interest in gardening, especially vegetable gardening, and that a resurgence was on the way.

    Of course the main stream media picked up on this, a couple of years too late. If you want to know where the future of gardening is headed, look no further than the blog roll listed right here at Garden Rant!

  5. I’m bucking the trend, we grassed in our last veggie patches last fall. As we’re getting closer to retirement, and there are only two of us, it was too much work, and too much produce. I used to have huge veggie gardens, two of them 25×50 feet (one for squash and pumpkins) because I had the space, and it was fun at the time, and after all, its was the country-garden thing to do. After a few years, we grassed the big patches over in favor of the two smaller patches, which have now bitten the dust too. Have I given up on locally grown organic veggies? No way: but instead of doing the work myself (I still have huge ornamental gardens to keep me busy), I support a CSA farm of idealistic young people, and an old guy down the road who is now growing the most amazing gourmet veggies. The only veggies I plan to grow myself are several tomato plants, a bit of basil and other herbs, and I might tuck a Swiss chard plant among my ornamental grasses. We will hold on to our aspargus patch until it stops producing. It was hard at first to give it up, but now I feel quite liberated: I take care of 10 acres, and something had to give.

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