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Study Says Small Gardens Can Be As Productive As Factory Farms

In collaboration with the University of Wyoming, a local food advocacy group conducted a study to find out just how many vegetables a backyard garden in Wyoming can produce.  The project is called Team G.R.O.W., or Gardening Research of Wyoming. 

Gayle Woodsum is the founder of Feeding Laramie Valley, the group sponsoring the research. She says the idea behind the study was simple. “So these were gardeners who said, yeah, we’d like to know, really, how much are we producing.  And what value does that have in terms of numbers.  But what they did is they weighed every pea, every bean, every leaf of lettuce that came out of that garden for the entire season.”

The 22 gardeners in the study raised 4,500 pounds of vegetables on a little over a quarter of land.  Woodsum says the results show the harvest was as good as those reported by large-scale factory farms.  The study was funded by a $5-million USDA grant. 

Woodsum hopes the results will help the group with future efforts to show policy makers why community garden projects should be supported and encouraged the same way large-scale farms are. 

Melodie Edwards is the host and producer of WPM's award-winning podcast The Modern West. Her Ghost Town(ing) series looks at rural despair and resilience through the lens of her hometown of Walden, Colorado. She has been a radio reporter at WPM since 2013, covering topics from wildlife to Native American issues to agriculture.
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