And the trend continues

Amid city streets, a growing trend

High produce prices send urbanites in search of a spade and handful of seeds

City dwellers such as Diane McKenney, watering her strawberries and onions in the Bremen Street garden, have started to grow their food. City dwellers such as Diane McKenney, watering her strawberries and onions in the Bremen Street garden, have started to grow their food. (Dominic Chavez/Globe Staff)
By Robert Knox Globe Correspondent / June 3, 2008

Can’t stomach $4 a pound for organic tomatoes at the supermarket? Maybe it’s time to grow your own.

Escalating food prices are prompting more people to return to the soil this spring, according to community garden coordinators, garden centers, and merchants. Seed sales are up across the region, and organizers of community gardens report that waiting lists are expanding.

Several factors are inflating grocery prices: higher fuel costs for trucking food, a strong export market for US-grown food, weather disasters around the world, and the increasing use of products such as corn to make biofuel. As a result, growing produce has become an attractive option for some consumers, even if they have doubts about the greenness of their thumbs.

“The cost of vegetables is very expensive and the cost of everything is getting expensive,” said Andrea Robichaud, who took up gardening this spring to reduce her food bills. Robichaud, 32, was awarded one of three spaces that became available at the 44-plot Bremen Street Community Garden in East Boston. She is growing such staples as tomatoes, lettuce, and carrots, along with basil, cilantro, and other herbs.

Diane McKenney, another gardener, grows strawberries and red onions in her plot.

Joe Raffaele, owner of American Seed Co. in Norton, said fewer people think they can afford fresh produce at supermarkets. “If they don’t grow their own, they won’t have any,” he said.

American Seed – which sells 35 million seed packets annually – said it is shipping out about 18 percent more vegetable seeds to dealers than last year.

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