Home gardening: A hobby, a food source, and more!

April 25, 2011

Home gardening serves as hobby, food source, and more, and this SupermarketGuru consumer panel proves they are opportunities for supermarkets to dig in with gardening supplies and guidance.

We are seeing personal gardens pop up in rural and urban areas, from backyards to rooftops. And as it seems to be popular practice to roll up your sleeves and start digging in the dirt, SupermarketGuru wanted to dig a little deeper into the reasons interest in home gardening has grown so much in recent years. Here's what we learned from our consumer panel.

To start with, 79% of our panel told us they grow vegetables at home, and 78% said they grow herbs. Thirty-nine percent grow fruits, and only 14% said they don't garden at all.

Why is gardening important to American shoppers these days? Could it be the increased focus on sustainability and protecting our environment? Are consumers more concerned about pesticides or the nutritional value of their foods? Is the recession leaving some families, particularly those in food deserts, with no choice but to start growing their own fruits and vegetables? The answer is yes to all of these questions.

When our panel was asked to choose all the reasons they garden, 74% said they garden as a hobby, 69% feel their homegrown foods taste better, 62% maintain a home garden as a source for food, 60% feel their homegrown foods are more nutritious, 57% feel their garden saves them money, 43% feel their garden allows them to take part in conserving energy and taking care of the environment, and 43% use gardening as a fun learning activity for their children.

When asked what the most important reason our panel members maintain a home garden, 25% said they enjoy home gardening as a hobby. Another 20% said they feel their homegrown foods taste better. Twelve percent said they maintain a home garden as a source of food for their household, and nine percent feel their home garden saves them money. Seven percent feel their homegrown foods are more nutritious, six percent garden to do their part in protecting the environment, and four percent use home gardening as a fun learning activity for their children.

So now that we know what motivates our panel to garden, we also wanted to find out where they purchase their gardening supplies. Forty-three percent told us they shop for supplies at a large retail store such as Lowe's, Home Depot, Target, etc, and 41% said they get there supplies from a local nursery. Only two percent said they buy gardening supplies at their supermarket.

Supermarkets have an opportunity here to promote gardening to their shoppers and offer guidance. With summertime being upon us, and hobby gardening being the number one reason people maintain gardens, how about peaking interest even more by offering workshops for beginners. Thirty-eight percent of our panel told us that they know two to five people in their community that are gardening, and 22% said they know 10 or more! Chances are if their friends and neighbors are gardening, they might enjoy a Saturday morning coffee chat in the supermarket to exchange ideas, ask questions and learn as a community. As a bonus and to encourage attendance, Supermarkets could offer coupons on ready to plant fruit trees, gardening kits, seeds, watering cans, tools, etc, or host drawings for gifts to those who attend.

Get kids involved too! How about a workshop/day camp for kids while they are out of school that using gardening as a way to teach farm to table or as a tool to teach healthy eating. Parents will enjoy the free activity for their children, and they can get some shopping done while they are there too!