Comment of the Day: The Gaping Hole in the Gardening Demographic

COMMENT OF THE DAY: THE GAPING HOLE IN THE GARDENING DEMOGRAPHIC Garden Hole“. . . before you try to do something different and figure out a way to provide space for small garden plots, you should look at the demographics of your renters first. I work in the ornamental horticulture industry, and trust me, this has been a subject of deep interest in my business the last 5 years. To summarize dozens of surveys, fruit and vegetable gardening appeals to people in 2 age groups, the first is the 20-30 demo, and the other is 60+. There is a great big hole in the younger boomers and the Gen X folks who are middle aged, who basically don’t garden at all. If your apartments primarily have tenants in the under 30 crowd, they would probably pay extra for that amenity. One last point is that edible gardening picked up substantially in the 2008 recession, and has not slowed down at all. Most other categories of ornamental horticulture sales are flat or down.” [ShadyHeightster, commenting on Comment of the Day: Gardens or Parking Spots?] Illustration: Lulu

12 Comment

  • Over in the 5th ward we have the last organic outpost. Go by and pick up organic veggies on the weekend for cooking all the time. Good place for reducing that Whole Check bill.

  • any breakdown based on income? I’d imagine that the real value here is in the income demographics and not the age groups.

  • Where would you recommend a 30+ person with a black thumb and a back patio (but no yard) get started with edible container gardening? Is there a bible of sorts that’s basic enough for a complete beginner? (Hell, even a good “Dummies” book would be fine.)

  • So true. Being 40, I’m one of those that climbed out of that hole a few years ago and now can’t get enough of gardening. I feel like the only people I can speak to about this are “elderlies”.

  • Jen,

    Try Urban Harvest classes or the book written by Urban Harvest’s founder. Otherwise, a few dollars worth of seeds and a few plants and you are on your way…

  • I am under 30 and don’t know a single person….at all….like not one….who gardens. You must hang out in Austin a lot.

  • From my observations, this is spot on among the 60+ demographic. That is somewhat to be expected.

    The 20-30 crowd would like to think of themselves as being gardeners even if they are wholly incapable of committing themselves to the task; however, the same is typically true of somebody that thinks that they’ll use the clubhouse, business center, gym, or any other amenity in an apartment complex. Only a few people actually will. The efficacy of an amenity to an apartment complex is not gauged by whether people actually use it; it’s about how qualified prospective tenants envision themselves as possibly living their life at the point of sale and not a moment beyond that. Being a foodie is the “in” thing. Maybe some people so completely wrap their identity up in that concept that they will bother to put their money where their mouth is, but a whole lot more people are merely hangers-on and are susceptible to buying into street cred rather than cultivating it authentically. This is not a trend that should be ignored by municipalities or multifamily property managers.

  • Jen, as suggested, Urban Harvest has great classes and information. You can also try ” A Garden Book for Houston” by Lynn Herbert.
    Demographic income data is the usual you would expect, with people in the household income brackets north of $75,000 a year buying the most plants/veggies/what have you. I do find it amusing that there are landscapers in this town hired by wealthy ladies in River Oaks and Tanglewood who employ their landscapers to plant vegetable gardens for them and maintain said gardens, because they want to show their neighbors how “green” they are.
    As to the under 30’s doing lots of edible gardening, these are national surveys, not local, so your experience may vary.

  • My parents always kept a vegetable garden when I was a kid, and it sort of fell off at some point when I was a teenager.

    When I bought my house, I went from having one 2×6 patch I would grow peppers during the summer, now I have 4 2×6 raised beds that I plant year round with whatever is good for the season I’m in, and 2 citrus trees (grapefruit and lemon).

    I encourage anyone and everyone to get into it. It can be cheap, doesn’t take much time to do, and yes, the food is so fresh, it will taste like you just picked it.

    If you aren’t confident that you can do it, plant according to what the package tells you, buy a hygrometer and water when it tells you to. It really is that simple.

  • Regarding gardening books, also look at “Square Foot Gardening.” It has a chapter (or two) on gardening in containers and in yardless areas.

  • @TheNiche
    It is certainly true that a lot of people are “interested” in growing their own food, only to have a nice raised bed full of bermuda grass by the time August hits. Many homeowners might not be willing to take the financial risk themselves, but would value a garden in a development. Sustainability (or the appearance of it) seems to be driving so many purchasing decisions that I am surprised more developers haven’t gone this route yet.

    I think Green Owl is referring to “Year Round Gardening for Metro Houston” by Dr. Bob Randall. It can be bought at many of the local mom and pop garden centers. It is an excellent guide for houston food growing. I’ll also second the Urban Harvest website and classes as a great source of information. We are also hosting a hands on class next week about how to build your own vegetable gardens. You can find information about it on the Houston Makerspace website.

  • @John C – I live inside the loop, and don’t know a single crack whore – not one!