A Growing Appetite By Tim Hodson

It looks like the home gardener’s appetite for edibles just continues to grow.

In fact, it might be a bit ravenous because it is estimated that approximately 60 million Americans are now growing their own fruits, herbs and vegetables.

When the market research firm Packaged Facts surveyed consumers last year, the No. 1 reason why people participate in outdoor gardening of any kind is to grow their own fruits and vegetables!

Approximately 44 percent of all gardeners said enjoying the taste of their own garden-fresh vegetables/fruit was the primary reason for why they gardened. One-third of the survey respondents said they grew their own edibles so they could take advantage of the nutritional benefits of their garden’s bounty.

More than 25 percent are growing their own fruits and veggies to save money over store-bought products, and about 20 percent said they wanted to have some control over their food supply and how the crops are produced.

What are you serving up?

Gardeners growing their own edibles is no longer a trend — it is a lifestyle choice for many of them. It is quite obvious that consumers have a hunger for edibles, so that’s why this month GPN is focusing on these crops in our Fresh Fare section.

If you are not already growing edibles for retail consumers or other outlets, such as local restaurants and other establishments, we want to help you gain a better understanding of some of the products and production techniques so you can take advantage of the growing category.

In this issue, you will find a bushel basket of articles on the topic including growing vegetables for today’s urban consumer and growing microgreens and herbs using a vertical farm production system.

In the 40 Under 40 Perspectives column, we take a look at how growers and garden centers can remain relevant with today’s millennial consumers who are using herbs, veggies and fruit as a “gateway drug” into home gardening. If they are successful with edibles, millennials are much more likely to expand their gardening repertoire with annuals and perennials.

Hydroponic growing techniques provide growers with an excellent option for producing leafy greens year-round in a controlled environment. If you have never used hydroponics, we have an article that covers some of the basic production methods for these crops.

Are you currently growing edibles? Do you plan on growing more fruits, herbs and vegetable in the coming year? Drop me a line at thodson@greatamericanpublish.com and let me know what you are doing to satisfy the market’s appetite for edibles.

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GPN recognizes 40 industry professionals under the age of 40 who are helping to determine the future of the horticulture industry. These individuals are today’s movers and shakers who are already setting the pace for tomorrow.