Vegetable Output, Cost Savings, and Nutritional Value of Low-Income Families’ Home Gardens in San Jose, CA

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Taylor & Francis


Participation in home food gardening in the United States has been growing. From 2008 to 2013, the number of home gardens increased by 4 million, and the number of households with annual incomes of less than $35 000 that are food gardening rose by 38%. The purpose of this study was to measure crop output, cost savings, and nutritional value of low-income home gardeners in San Jose, California. This pilot study included administering a background survey to a convenience sample of low-income home gardeners with a subset of gardeners weighing vegetable output of plots during the 2104 spring–summer growing season. Participants included an ethnically diverse group of 50 low-income families who completed the survey and 8 gardeners who weighed vegetable output of their garden. The gardeners produced an average of 1.23 lb vegetables/ft2 and saved an average of $339 by growing their own vegetables. Cost savings were greatest when vertical high-value crops such as tomatoes and cucumbers were grown. All weighers but one produced 60% or more of the total cups of vegetables recommended by the U.S. Dietary Guidelines. This small pilot study demonstrates that home gardens can produce substantial cost savings and improve nutrition in diets of low-income families.