The Economic and Nutritive Value of the Raised Bed Home Vegetable Garden: A Model for the Southeastern United States

By Andrew Dandridge Fruge, Sylvia H. Byrd, Pete Melby and David Nagel.

Published by Food Studies: An Interdisciplinary Journal

Format Price
Article: Print $US10.00
Published online: June 13, 2014 $US5.00

Fruit and vegetable consumption is poor among American adults and adolescents, as evidenced by the inadequate micronutrient intake and high prevalence of diet-related chronic diseases. Producing fruit and vegetables within the home/community landscape provides solutions to perceived barriers for families. This paper discusses the tangible and intangible costs and benefits of raised bed vegetable gardening in the southeastern United States. Data from a model raised bed garden designed for a family of four (four 0.9m x 12.2m x 0.2m beds) include costs of raw materials, topsoil, seeds, transplants, water, and fertilizer used, as well as vegetable yields for the first year of production. National data for average retail prices and nutrient composition were combined with experimental data for cost/benefit analysis and modeling in terms of US dollars, vegetable servings, and micronutrient content. Sensitivity analysis of garden value indicates that negative returns on investment only occur when production yields are 50% at all levels of labor and 75% yields and high labor. Using published average yields, the garden model produces 2.45 vegetable servings per person per day, supplying 8.8-42.7% of major minerals,10.1-28.1% of B Vitamins (excluding B12), 78.0% Vitamin A, 90.6% Vitamin C, and 516.7% Vitamin K. The raised bed garden is an economically beneficial means to increase vegetable intake and nutrition status.

Keywords: Food, Economics, Self-sufficiency

Food Studies: An Interdisciplinary Journal, Volume 3, Issue 2, July 2014, pp.1-9. Article: Print (Spiral Bound). Published online: June 13, 2014 (Article: Electronic (PDF File; 332.046KB)).

Andrew Dandridge Fruge

Research Assistant, Department of Food Science, Nutrition, and Health Promotion, Mississippi State University, Mississippi State, Mississippi, USA

Andrew Dandridge Fruge, MBA, MS is a PhD student in human nutrition at Mississippi State University. His research has focused on adolescent and young adult nutrition, with an emphasis on behavior change through gardening and cooking interventions.

Prof. Sylvia H. Byrd

Professor, Department of Food Science, Nutrition, and Health Promotion, Mississippi State University, Mississippi State, Mississippi, USA

Prof. Pete Melby

Professor Emeritus, Department of Landscape Architecture, Mississippi State University, Mississippi State, Mississippi, USA

Prof. David Nagel

Extension Professor, Department of Plant and Soil Sciences, Mississippi State University, Mississippi State, Mississippi, USA