Growing food together may not be for everyone, but for the frugal healthy eaters amongst us it makes a lot of sense and cents. When you grow fruit and veg together you can share tools, space and work. So let’s assume you and two friends decide to start a yardsharing garden to save some money on fresh organics, have a healthy outdoor activity to share, and to teach your kids that food does not come from Walmart.
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Also keep in mind that when we talk about return on investment for planting your own gardens we are taking into account all of the benefits of growing our own food, which are not strictly about personal economies. There are so many reasons to grow your own, saving great heaping gobs of cash is just one.
Let’s say your families agree that almonds, Granny Smith apples, and blueberries are a good place to start, and so off we go. These are back of the napkin calculations. I am not factoring in anything too complicated like seasonality, storage, inflation, peak oil or buying local. You may pick different crops. I simply picked three things I spend a lot of money on. Almonds and blueberries shock me every time I buy them. Both are considered ‘superfoods,’ densely packed nutrition in perfect snacky form.
Let’s assume that each of our families enjoys approximately:
- 2 lbs organic Granny Smith apples @ $4.50 per week.
- 1 lb organic anti-oxidant rich blueberries @ $12.00 per week.
- .5 lb organic almonds @ 7.00 per week
That’s about $24.00 per week per family, or about $1250.00 per family per year for three pretty basic healthy staples. It’s $3750.00 per year for all three families to eat yummy organic green apples, blueberries and almonds. Now let’s assume that to produce this amount for three families you will need:
- 4 almond trees (producing about 64 lbs per year)
- 2 apple trees (producing about 600 lbs per year)
- 15 mature blueberry bushes (producing about 150 pounds per year)
Your group wants the benefit sooner rather than later so you agree to purchase mature trees and shrubs.
- 4 producing almond trees – 8′ @ $80.00 = $320.00
- 2 producing apple trees 8′ @ $90.00 = $180.00
- 15 producing blueberry bushes 4′ @ $40.00 = $600.00
Your one time investment is about $1700.00 (plus tax and shipping) for all three families, including one time purchase of tools and starting garden costs using a rough figure of $600.00, assuming you have no tools between you and your soil needs a lot of help. Add some sweat equity and a year to let the trees and shrubs settle in.
This works out to about $600.00 per family for 20 years worth of apples, almonds and blueberries! Growing their own saves all three families a total of $74,000.00 over 20 years. – Assuming your families share, or 24K, is conservatively invested expecting a 2.8 % return over those 20 years and adjusted for inflation – that’s $61,072.13 clams via the magic of compound interest!
Now the almond trees, treated well, will produce almonds for 40+ years. The apples for 30, and you may need to replace the blueberries. We’re just playing with pens and napkins after all.
So, how do you like them apples, almonds, and blueberries?
Note: Numbers were revised on Feb. 5th after being published on Feb 4th 2009.