Nov 8, 2006

The $64,000 Vegetable Bed

Anyone who has ever tried to make their home garden yield more, better, or less expensive produce than the local grocery store offers knows the futility of that effort. But does it really cost $64 to grow a tomato?

Well, given the costs of water, energy, materials, and labor (what's your weeding time worth?), that tomato certainly will cost more than the $2 or $3 you'll spend on seeds. If you're just growing for pleasure or taste, as I do, that's probably pretty easy to justify. However, if you're truly growing your food to conserve money, you'll need a more efficient system.

Enter the communal garden, where neighbors, families, even complete strangers share the costs of water, land, and maintenance. As American Public Media's "Marketplace" reports, these economies of scale can cut the costs of produce to 25% of retail.

If you would like to know more about community gardening, call your city manager's office to find out whether there currently is a public garden in your area. The garden coordinator can then tell you more about joining, including fees, rules, and whether there's a waiting list.

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