Guerilla Gardening: The Urban Farmer’s Guide to Saving Grocery Money

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Guest Post by Thomas Doane
Last year, changes in the economy hit my family pretty hard. My hours were cut at work, and I found myself unable to afford necessities like food and toiletries. In desperation, I turned to gardening and couponing, and I haven’t looked back. By investing time each week cultivating my vegetable plants and some smart shopping at the grocery store, I’m able to save my family thousands of dollars every year.
Planting and Growing an Urban Garden
Getting creative in the garden has helped me save money each week. My family loves fresh produce like tomatoes and salads, and I enjoy working outside. With more free time after my hours got cut, I turned to gardening as a way to cut our food expenses and cultivate a hobby.
We don’t have much space in our urban yard, but I was able to grow tomatoes, onions, garlic and basil bushes last year. This year, I plan to add lettuce, peppers and chives. Primarily, I used a small space in my apartment’s courtyard. I don’t have personal outdoor space, but my landlord agreed to allow me to plant in the communal space. Greenhouse plants can be expensive, so I purchased only the larger plants like tomato bushes that would have taken too long to grow from seed. I purchased affordable organic seed packets to grow herbs. With regular watering and attention, the plants flourished and provided us with tasty produce all season.
You don’t need a huge back yard in order to grow a prolific garden. My neighbors started a roof top garden, and friends across town grow herbs in their home. Both of these options help families save money and grow fresh produce in limited space.
Clipping and Using Coupons

I started my couponing venture with the Sunday newspaper. Every week, coupon fliers offer savings on food, toiletries, paper products and vitamins. After I clip the food coupons, I organize them into a folder. Some people divide their coupons into categories like canned goods, dairy and meat. I keep mine organized by expiration date.

Next, I scour the grocery store ads. Using the specials and my stocked pantry, I plan a menu for the week. For the greatest savings, I combine specials with my coupons. Buy one get one free items are my favorites, and I always take advantage of double coupons and grocery store reward card incentives. These savings combinations sometimes allow me to walk away with a 50 percent discount on my weekly grocery bill.
Besides the newspaper, I look for online coupons. Most major brands and retail grocery stores offer coupons and other deals on their websites. I sign up for weekly emails and special offers that I can print or send to my rewards card. With this organization, I save money every week by clipping coupons.
If I have time, I will drive to two or three stores, but usually I hit the store closest to my house or on my way home from work. Certain stores offer price matching. Armed with a competitor’s printed advertisement, I can stop at one store and find the lowest price on everything on my list.
In addition to saving money, my urban garden serves as my free therapist. Digging in the dirt and watching plants grow really helps me relax and think. In a peaceful environment, I work with my hands to produce healthy produce my family enjoys eating.
While I did not enjoy the pay cut I received after my hours were cut at work, I feel good about the choices I made to coupon and garden. Every day, I find big bargains, learn new techniques and save more money, which satisfies everyone in my family.


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  1. More gardening is definitely on my to do list this spring/summer! I’ll be quite the site, hobbling about in my boot!

  2. I think that’s awesome your landlord agreed to allow some space for you to grow. We have the space, but no sun reaches those areas. 🙁 & The area it does hit, its very small space.

    The home we are currently living in is ultimately small. We’ve had to downgrade due to hardships, but things are starting to look up, but with how much we save by being frugal (homemade products and homemade meals), we probably won’t go back to our old ways. We should be upgrading our living space within the next couple of months and in doing so I want to starting growing our own produce and possibly start making some things like yogurt and sour cream.

    Thanks for sharing your story! 🙂

  3. gardening is fun and att eh end you feel like you really did something special.
    to look out and see all those gorgeous tomatoes is awesome.


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