December Tip: Consumer awareness in gardening communities

swiss-chard-backyard-gardenA groundswell of consumer awareness is driving changes in gardening communities across the country.

Today’s gardening trends reflect the global move to use local resources and make choices that directly affect the course of our future. Environmental and health concerns are influencing a growing consumer desire for a more natural, healthy lifestyle.

Concerns about the effects of pesticides, GMOs and potential bacterial contamination in processing have fueled a movement to greater gardening self-sufficiency. Spawned by the desire to save money and control growing methods, more people are creating their own vegetable gardens, either at home or in community gardens.

The pages of gardening catalogs and magazines are filled with glossy advertisements for easy-assemble kits for starter vegetable beds and a growing array of creative containers for growing edibles in limited spaces.  From click-together vegetable bed frames to raised patio planters and lightweight plastic grow-bags, more and more options are being tailored to meet the unique needs of individual gardeners. Don’t have room for a raised bed because you only have a balcony? No worries – hang a planter bag from the ceiling.

The trend encompasses people on both sides of the restaurant table as well.  As customers become more discerning about the food they eat, restaurateurs are also embracing the movement, partnering with local farms and growers.  Locally sourced food has become a sign of the times. Promoted in advertising and featured in food reviews and blogs, it, too, is driving and being driven by changing consumer behavior.

In his book, “Jack Allen’s Kitchen,” local restaurateur, Jack Gilmore, chronicles his adventures in food, highlighting the role that local farmers and farmers’ markets have played in his successes. The book includes not only his story and his recipes, but also the stories of at least a dozen local farms and the symbiotic relationship he has with them. The tagline of his restaurant is: Jack Allen’s Kitchen — Local in source, Texan in spirit.

Read the full article here.