As the cost of living surges, home-grown fruit and vegetables are something to 'fall back on'

As the cost of living surges, home-grown fruit and vegetables are something to 'fall back on'

As the cost of living surges, home-grown fruit and vegetables are something to 'fall back on'

13 September, 2022

With lettuce and cauliflowers costing $6 each and with recent weather events set to see the prices rise even further, more and more backyards are being transformed as people start looking to grow their own.

Rebecca Johnson, the general manager at the Limberlost Garden Centre in Cairns, says it is seeing a spike in the sale of seedlings, fruit trees and packeted seeds.

"Everything is getting a little more expensive to buy so grow-your-own is getting more enticing," she said.

"Recently there has been an increase in demand for things like lettuce, herbs and tomatoes."

'The beans have taken off'

Tablelands author Jo Whitton started growing her own food a few months ago after beans hit $40 a kilogram at her local supermarket.

"I wanted to start growing a lot more of my own food because of the rising food prices," she said.

"With all of the rising uncertainty in the world, I wanted to have a garden in my backyard to fall back on."

So far, Ms Whitton has planted lettuce, spinach, capsicum, chillies, tomatoes, beans, beetroot, carrots and potatoes.

"Some of these are taking longer than others, but the beans have taken off which I'm happy about as I saw them in the shop for $44/kg the other day," she said.

"I haven't planted on this scale before and there's a lot to learn. I'm still figuring where to plant and what grows well together and what doesn't."

An unexpected benefit, according to Ms Whitton, has been the amount of food on offer from others growing their own food.

"People are always dropping off food, we don't swap we just share with each other," she said.

"I've had people drop off bags of fruit and boxes of avocadoes and I'm looking forward to returning that favour."

Cost and health benefits

Ms Johnson says there has been an increase in the sale of seedlings, not just due to cost savings, but also due to people becoming more health-conscious.

"People are becoming aware of the benefits of growing their own food. They know what goes into it, they know what gets sprayed on it and you can harvest it right out of your own garden," she said.

"Seeds can be a little bit harder to grow for people that are just starting out but once they get a little practice, seeds are the cheaper way to go."

There has also been a spike in people without backyards getting in on the grow-your-own trend.

"Herb gardens can be grown in a pot and tomatoes grow really well in pots up here," Ms Johnson said.

"Dwarf fruit trees are popular, and people are using hanging baskets to grow strawberries on their balcony."

Community gardens can't keep up

Bungalow Community Garden president Joe Jensen says that community gardens have also seen a spike in participation since COVID, and the trend is not abating.

"We couldn't accommodate all the people wanting garden beds or the fruit or vegetables that we produced," he said.

"The demand has been constant over the past few years; we haven't been able to keep up."

Mr Jensen says people are wanting to get back to basics by growing their own fruit and vegetables

"People are now much more interested in food security and where their food comes from," he said.

"We seem to have come full circle; we are back to growing our own food and getting our hands dirty in the soil.

"It's like a primal instinct that we need to touch the earth and grow our on food."