As the cost of living surges, home-grown fruit and vegetables are something to ‘fall back on’


With lettuce and cauliflowers costing $6 each and with recent weather events set to see the prices rise even further, more and more backyards are being transformed as people start looking to grow their own.

Rebecca Johnson, the general manager at the Limberlost Garden Centre in Cairns, says it is seeing a spike in the sale of seedlings, fruit trees and packeted seeds.

“Everything is getting a little more expensive to buy so grow-your-own is getting more enticing,” she said.

“Recently there has been an increase in demand for things like lettuce, herbs and tomatoes.”

Rebecca in a pink shirt holding three small trays of seedlings
Rebecca Johnson says she is seeing a spike in sales of fruit and veg seedlings.(ABC Far North: Phil Brandel)

‘The beans have taken off’

Tablelands author Jo Whitton started growing her own food a few months ago after beans hit $40 a kilogram at her local supermarket.

“I wanted to start growing a lot more of my own food because of the rising food prices,” she said.

“With all of the rising uncertainty in the world, I wanted to have a garden in my backyard to fall back on.”

Green beans with a price tag of 44 dollars a kilo
Jo Whitton is growing her own produce due to expensive supermarket prices.(Supplied: Jo Whitton)

So far, Ms Whitton has planted lettuce, spinach, capsicum, chillies, tomatoes, beans, beetroot, carrots and potatoes.

“Some of these are taking longer than others, but the beans have taken off which I’m happy about as I saw them in the shop for $44/kg the other day,” she said.

“I haven’t planted on this scale before and there’s a lot to learn. I’m still figuring where to plant and what grows well together and what doesn’t.”

An unexpected benefit, according to Ms Whitton, has been the amount of food on offer from others growing their own food.

“I’ve had people drop off bags of fruit and boxes of avocadoes and I’m looking forward to returning that favour.”

Jo Whitton in black shirt and gardening gloves holding a plant with soil and roots visible
Jo Whitton with some of her backyard turmeric harvest.(Supplied: Jo Whitton)

Cost and health benefits

Ms Johnson says there has been an increase in the sale of seedlings, not just due to cost savings, but also due to people becoming more health-conscious.

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