The National Gardening Association estimates that a well-maintained vegetable garden yields a $500 average return per year. A study by Burpee Seeds claims that $50 spent on gardening supplies can multiply into $1,250 worth of produce annually”

Our household loves facts & figures especially when it comes to keeping track of our progress here on the urban homestead.  I think stats and facts are what people are most interested when it comes to this sort of lifestyle. They want to know the hard facts and sets a base of sorts for others to follow.

We planted our first garden here on the urban homestead over 22 years ago in a corner of the yard that was littered with weeds, car parts and who knows what else.  The soil was hard-pan and devoid of any life.

For the last two decades we’ve always grown food here in the city and improving our soil with compost and heavy mulching.   In 1989 because of the drought Farmer D smoother the lawn under a layer of newspaper and mulch and started growing food in the frontyard.   But it was in early 2000 that we decided to start keeping track of what we harvested and see how much food could really be grown.

The other day when we were calculating our monthly harvest totals I asked “ok, so how does poundage related to dollars?” How much ” food dollars” do we actually grow here on our 1/10 acre garden plot (~4,000 sq ft)? Out of the ~6,000 lbs we have guesstimated that 60% feeds our family, 30% supplies our clients (bringing in ~$25,000) and 10% we feed to our backyard barnyard animals.  So the question is:  What does the 60% of 6,000 lbs worth in dollars if 1/3 equals $25,000?

Of course we could really crunch the numbers because with approx 400 varieties grown overall there was certainly a range of $ per pound but I wanted a simple answer.  Doing a brief calculation that would be at least an additional $50,000 for a grand total of $75,000.00 on 1/10th acre. That figure is based on ORGANIC CA food prices not conventional ones. In addition, even the 10% we feed to the animals cost something if it had to be bought. So it was important to factor in their feed because they contribute eggs (and eventually milk) to our diet.  Like I said, please remember these figures are based on a plain mathematical equation.

And, boy was I shocked at the preliminary figure. So, if our quick figures are accurate, our little 1/10 plot grosses ~$75,000 worth of produce a year.    Yeah, I know, then “write a book about it”  I can just hear you yelling at the computer screens.

Okie dokie, not wanting to swerve to far off track…. but I think it could be someday possible (if the weather cooperates) that one day this 1/10 garden plot could/should eventually produce 10k of fruits, vegetables, herbs and animal food.

How much do you estimate your garden saves you on groceries a year?   During this period of economic downturn will you be growing more food, preserving, eat local, cutting back?

Care to share?

Speaking of growing your own.

Don’t forget to sign up for this year’s FREEDOM HARVEST CHALLENGE – a collective growing effort!

1 million pounds of food is not an unreasonable goal. In fact, you want a real challenge? I dare you to double that goal every year, for the next ten years. So, 2 million pounds in 2010, 4M in 2011, 8M in 2012, all the way up to 512 million pounds in 2018. Does that seem unreasonable? Put it this way … that is still less than 2 pounds of food per American for the whole year. If we all–as a country–can’t document 2 pounds of home-grown food per person per year, within ten years … well, that does not seem unreasonable to me. Plus, I know there are non-Americans here contributing, too. Heck, 500 million pounds of food within 10 years, that ought to be a piece of cake.

— FG member rainbird997

Tally Guidelines

Any “poundage” grown by you on your property, patio, window sill or community plot including fruits, vegetables, herbs, nuts that goes toward feeding yourself, animals and community.

Honey, dairy, eggs and meat can be tallied also but will not be counted in the 1 million “pound” tally but listed separately as food produce.

Let’s get growing!

Related News

Fighting the recession armed with seeds

Fruits of labor: how to grow and edible garden


  1. Devin Quince says:

    Last year we estimate we grew around 500 lbs on our plot with about 500-700 sq ft of garden space. We were able to eat through the Summer w/o buying many supplemental veggies/fruits from the farmers market. We also put enough stores i.e. canned and frozen to eat through the Winter again w/o many other purchases.

  2. Yanna says:

    The trick for some of us is to find an efficient way to design our gardens for more than food production, especially when we have small lots. Other goals may include incorporating native plants to provide sanctuary for local wildlife, providing room for pets and children to play, creating areas for outdoor dining and socializing (having no central air conditioning makes this an important feature here in the Chicago area) and so on.

    Other considerations may be steps such as contouring the soil to manage runoff from adjacent properties and to benefit the water table beneath the gardens. Swales, even small ones, take up room but can help to sustain fruit trees and berry shrubs through drought years.

    Maximizing production volume is a good goal but balancing that with sustainability practices with the aim of true sustainability for the long haul (not needing to purchase/transport amendments from elsewhere, for example) is perhaps ultimately of greater significance.

    Just some thoughts.

  3. Val says:

    What a great post.
    I have recently experienced a bit of naysaying in regards to gardening, in particular the increase of folks experiencing this recession. Will it save us money? As any other project initial start up costs are always factored in and yes the long term benefits not only save you money but nourish your body mind and soul. I think its awesome that your plot contributes not only your food but a bit of income as well. Gardening for me is truly a labor of love, it is something I would do even if I never see a dime from it. Its good for your body as well as your soul.

  4. Kory says:

    The only thing I did cost comparisons on was potatoes and tomatoes. Spuds saved us $65 and tomatoes saved us $50 and we had very meager yields. I don’t think it would be actually fair to say it saved us. The honest truth is that we wouldn’t have bought that quantity of produce. So in a way it forced us to eat organic and fresh, and thats the real benefit. When cost comes out of the equation, you can let your principles override your budgetary considerations.

  5. Zach says:

    How many person-hours do you collectively invest per year in this. I know its hard to figure, but I often hear “but I don’t have time for that” or “but I have a job”, etc even after hearing about amazing yields on small plots like your own. Knowing the time spent would help but the other statistics into perspective.


  6. Marcia says:

    We’re getting started very slowly with square foot gardening. My husband spent a couple of hours making two 3’x3′ “plots” (because that’s how much space we had in the back corner, with room to walk). We also have a couple of pots.

    Time-wise…It took about an hour to mix up the first amount of dirt and about 1/2 hour to plant. We’ve harvested two radishes so far, but the rest of the garden should pick up soon. Tomatoes and cukes are further out, but radishes, chard, and beets should be sooner.

    For us, it really doesn’t take that much time.

    Future planning, however, involves adding about two more SFG plots per year, and starting to compost in an unused area of the yard. Supposedly, once you build your SFG’s, you only have to periodically add compost.

    We have space for about 8-10 4’x4′ plots in our front yard too, but that’s in the future, like I said, 2 per year. Truthfully, we enjoy our CSA, and this is a supplement.

  7. Joe says:

    If you’re trying to maximize your yield to space ratio, have you considered using hydroponics? For some crops you can dramatically increase the yield per foot.

    I’d be very interested in anything you learn about organic hydroponics.



  8. Brian says:

    I’ve been working 2 4X8 ft raised beds for 2 years now and most of my time is spent up-front; preparing and planting. I start a few things inside which takes some time to maintain. Before planting outside i add compost and pick weeds. But once the plants are in the ground the only time spent after that point is watering, weeding, and harvesting.

  9. Organic vs Local? Who Cares. Home Grown is sustainable « Virere says:

    […] below. Their garden is ridiculously productive for the amount of land they have. Producing up to 6.000 lbs of produce a year on 1/10thof an acre. They have even been awarded the ‘garden of the decade award’ by […]

  10. Sunshine says:

    Let’s also consider the added health benefits and reduced payments to doctors. Plus it helps boost my mood, no depression here! Living in Michigan our outdoor growing season isn’t too long. Not to mention our limited sunshine. But we get plenty of rain so it all balances out. My parents just brought me 2 barrels to make rain barrels this week. And I’ve added 2 new BioIntensive gardens, one to the backyard and one to the front yard.
    Healthy Eating!

  11. Organic vs Local? Who Cares. Home Grown Is Sustainable | Mijn Online Plekje says:

    […] below. Their garden is ridiculously productive for the amount of land they have. Producing up to6.000 lbs of produce a year on 1/10thof an acre. They have even been awarded the ‘garden of the decade award’ by […]

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