Home Gardens Are Valuable

Thomas J. Koske  |  3/15/2006 3:33:09 AM

News You Can Use For March 2006

Many ways are available to contribute to the economic well-being of your family, parish, state and country. Producing fresh, healthy garden produce is just such a way, according to LSU AgCenter horticulturist Dr. Tom Koske.

"Vegetable gardening helps us all toward better health through exercise and good nutrition, but it also keeps before-tax money in our pockets, which gives us more to spend on other needs or wants," the horticulturist says.

"Considering our state average of a 400-square foot garden producing in summer, fall and winter to varying degrees, the value of our Louisiana home gardens in 2005 is estimated at $87,647,560," Koske says, citing Louisiana Summary, an annual compilation of the value of the state’s agriculture and natural resources.

Though a large number, the dollar amount is actually down from the year before by 16 percent, because of the effects of hurricanes Katrina and Rita, Koske says. The 2004 estimated value was $103,475,700. The horticulturist expects ongoing effects from the hurricanes will depress the 2006 value as well.

Across the state, parishes reported 337,106 home vegetable gardens in 2005, a drop of 2.3 percent from 2004. Every parish has home gardens; some have many more than others. The highest concentrations of gardens, almost 39 percent of state total, are found in the three metro areas around New Orleans, Baton Rouge and Shreveport.

Garden surveys regularly indicate that saving money is not the main reason Louisiana citizens grow vegetables. They garden because they like the fresh taste of garden produce, enjoy being outdoors, like the exercise and enjoy working with nature. The typical Louisiana gardener is a male senior citizen living in the suburbs.

The LSU AgCenter observed this situation several years ago and listed home gardens and home grounds as a priority area for its agricultural support. The AgCenter’s Horticulture Enhancement Initiative and Louisiana Master Gardener programs are two major efforts that directly support this priority, Koske says.

More gardening information is available at your local LSU AgCenter office. In addition, look for lawn & gardening and Get It Growing links in the LSU AgCenter Web site: www.lsuagcenter.com.

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On the Internet: LSU AgCenter: www.lsuagcenter.com/

Source: Tom Koske (225) 578-2222, or tkoske@agcenter.lsu.edu

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