Cost VS Benefits of a Smart Vegetable Garden
Today I wanted to respond to a great comment I received on a post on social media.
The post was about making what we call 'Green Money'. It was a short video that showed me planting out some Asian Greens. And there was a little graphic that showed the cost of the punnet of seedling versus the price you would pay for the same fully-grown vegetable at a grocery store.
In this case, a punnet of Asian Greens was $4, and the resultant crop would have had a supermarket value of $32. This means that by the time your seedling grows full size, you would have just made $28 of what we call 'Green Money'.
With inflation driving fresh produce prices through the roof at the moment, I thought it was a good idea to place a financial value on what you can grow yourself as it can be motivation for people thinking about starting a veggie patch.
One of our followers made a really insightful comment on the post, saying that it was easy for us to look at the cost like this as we already had our Smart Veggie Patch. It was a great point that the cost of creating and building a garden also needed to be included to get an accurate idea of the actual cost versus the benefits.
It got me thinking about a few things, particularly the financial aspects of having a Smart Veggie Patch or any vegetable garden. It also brought up a great discussion point about the actual cost of being 'self-sufficient' or 'sustainable', which both Gemma and I have deliberated many times.
Regarding the financial aspects of having a Smart Veggie Patch, I look at it like this. If you can grow the equivalent of, say $50 dollars a week of fresh organic produce in your garden, then that is money you are not spending at a grocery store. It is not hard to produce $50 worth of organic produce on average per week when you consider the current price for 'organic' produce in stores, and that is even if you can get it!
So your veggie patch can potentially save you around $2600 per year on your grocery bills. Now just looking at a garden from a purely financial point of view and treating it like a business, you would want any capital you invested in a business returned to you over, say, a three to five-year period. After that, the money that the business makes is all profit, less of course, your operating expenses.
So, your veggie patch business can make $2600 per year less operating cost. That's $50 per week of savings by not needing to buy your fresh organic produce from a grocery store. I believe the operating cost for a Smart Veggie Patch that was a perfect size for a typical family, say something about 25sqm in size, would be about $300 per year. This would cover the cost of seeds, seedlings, composts, sprays, amendments, equipment replacement etc.
So your net saving or financial benefit would be $2300 per year. That's the $50 per week x 52 weeks, so $2600 per year. This is averaged out as you would produce much more in spring and summer and less in autumn and winter. So we have $2600 minus what we spent in the year, which would be $300, leaving us with $2300 in financial benefit from the garden.
So if we want to make our money back in 3 years, we would invest $2300 x 3, which is $6900. If we are willing to take a longer timeline to get our capital back and use a 5-year timeframe, we would be then happy to invest $2300 x 5, so we now have $11,500 to spend on our organic veggie garden.
I am not including the time you need to spend maintaining the garden, which in the case of a Smart Veggie Patch, would be about 2hr a week. But what I am also not including in this example is a host of other potential financial benefits your veggie patch will give you. Things like the money you could save by being much healthier from eating fresh organic produce every day. Or the environmental cost you save by growing your food and reducing your reliance on the industrial food system. Or even the cost of ensuring greater future food security for your family. The list goes on.
We also need to consider that a Smart Veggie Patch built and maintained properly should provide you with at least 10-15 years of abundant fresh produce (probably more). So after you have made that initial money you spent back, you would save thousands of dollars every year on your fresh food bills.
So treating your garden like Gordon Gecko from Wall Street and crunching the numbers might not be how most people look at or want to look at the value that an organic home garden offers, but it does show that it can make real financial sense.
Decisions like these come down to what your priorities are. With rising inflation and interest rates, family budgets will only get more stretch in the future as things become more expensive. It will cost you more to build a Smart Veggie Patch today than it did just a year ago, so it could be wise to do something now rather than later if growing food at home is something you are considering.
So thanks to the valuable comment that spurred this whole thought process for me, and I hope it gave you some extra food for thought about the financial cost versus the benefits of a Smart Veggie Patch. If you have any comments or questions, please post them on our Instagram account at the Smart Veggie Patch. Discussions in and around the issues of growing food at home are great inspiration and motivation, and I really appreciate everyone's feedback and thoughts.
Anyway, until next time.