America’s much-maligned Millennial Generation (born between 1981 and 1996) have taken a lot of guff from media, parents, and comedians. Frankly, much of it was earned, as they attended expensive colleges, received some essentially worthless degrees, went heavily into debt, and moved back into their parents’ homes.
Somehow, time heals most wounds, people grow up, and priorities change. So, it seems with Millennials, who have quietly been acting more like their ancestral generations. We welcome the evolution.
When COVID-19 altered the lifestyles of people worldwide, Americans rekindled an interest in agriculture, but on a personal level. Personal food production caught fire and provided some relief for all uncertainties of where our purchased food had been, how it had been grown, and what may have touched the surfaces. Back yard gardens provided not only safe but high-quality food and people everywhere established their own producing plots. Online gardening purchases saw an increase of 100% during the pandemic. COVID-19 alone created almost 18.3 million new gardeners, most of whom were millennials.
At-home gardening has also played a role in mental health. While being cooped up for almost two years, people had to find new ways to fight feelings of isolation, anxiety, and depression. With online therapy helping in a professional sense, gardening gave people a reason to go outside more and socialize at a safe distance.
Inflation’s onset added a new dimension to personal food production, as seeds cost a fraction of store-bought food. Millennials apparently recognized all the benefits, including getting out of their parent's basements, and into the outdoors. Demand has not slowed with the lessening prominence of COVID. In fact, America’s seed producers are having trouble with their own supply chains. With April 2022 having the largest price increase in Food at Home purchases since April 1979, people are looking for any way to save money on their food.
Today, personal food production has many reasonable and productive options, both for outdoor and indoor (hydroponic and other) production. There are many choices for the start-up gardener, ranging from various levels of involvement in at-home gardening, as well as the ability to rent plots or participate in a community garden in the area. An average home garden costs around $70 dollars and can produce on average $600 worth of food. Indoor systems are a great option for those living in apartments or homes that have very little outdoor space. Gardening supply companies can be relied on for both simple and sophisticated gardens, offering a variety of in-ground or above-ground gardening beds. One of the items perfect for use in Florida is the bug and critter barrier for your produce, as the staple for most gardens, the tomato, is often preyed upon by such creatures.
Welcoming the Millennial Generation to the world of personal agriculture by no means excludes Gen-X or Baby Boomer participants. From a Personal Financial Planning viewpoint, nothing makes more sense than lowering food costs while controlling your own freshness and quality.
Special thanks to our own Megan Todd, a Millennial herself, for her insight and assistance in constructing this week’s Blog.
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