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Save Money by Growing Your Own Food

A small investment in fruit trees and berry plants can produce thousands of dollars' worth of fruit!

For various reasons, gardening is a wonderful way to save money.  Whether the motivation is to make it through tight economic times or to live a more minimalist lifestyle, growing more of your own food reduces grocery expenses.  This is especially true when considering the higher cost of organic produce. 

While vegetable gardens are commonly a first thought, these plants are often more of a short-term solution that requires starting over every year.  To reap more serious savings, think about investing in long-term crops like fruit trees, nut trees, berry plants, and perennial vegetables like asparagus.  As an added benefit, these plants grow some of the most expensive produce at the grocery store. 

Let’s Do Some Math

The amount of money you save will vary by the varieties you choose, the mature size of the plant, as well as other things, but here is an example to consider: 

A semi-dwarf apple tree can produce 5 to 10 bushels per year. For this exercise, we'll assume an average of 7.5 bushels per year.  A bushel of apples weighs about 45 pounds.  According to a recent Consumer Reports article, the national average price in June 2020 for conventional apples was $1.63 and organic apples was $1.95.

7.5 bushels x 45 pounds = 337.5 pounds per year 
337.5 pounds x $1.63 per pound = $550.13 worth of nonorganic apples per year - or - $658.13 worth of organic apples per year

Semi-dwarf apple trees live 15 to 25 years and take around 4 years to start bearing more heavily.  Using an average of 20 years, and omitting the first 4 years of growth, one apple tree could potentially produce for 16 years, for a total of $8,802.08 worth of apples, or $10,530.08 worth of organic apples.  Wow! 

Of course, this is just an estimation and by no means a guarantee. Planting location, weather, care and maintenance, tree maturity, varietal vigor/nature, and other variables all contribute to the overall yield, so this information is merely a guide.  Even with more conservative estimates, that is a great return on investment! Factor in the cost savings of producing your own products like apple pies, apple sauce, apple butter, and apple leather, and the savings continue to increase. This is just for one tree, imagine the long-term value of planting several different fruit trees and berry plants in your yard. 

Extend the Savings 

The cost savings from making trips to a grocery store or farmers market doesn't have to end after the harvest season.  To extend your crop's value, consider freezing, canning, dehydrating, or even fermentation.  If you are new to food preservation, here are a few articles from our Growing Guide: 

Fruit Preservation Roundup
Freezing Your Fruit Harvest
Homemade Elderberry Syrup
Freezing Blueberries the Right Way


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