Nationwide Study of Garden Food Waste

Results of a Two Year Study of Garden Food Waste:

    • 11.5 billion pounds of garden produce becomes food waste every year

    • That produce could feed 28 Million people

Garden Food PhotoAccording to the USDA, 40% of our food worth an estimated $161 billion was never harvested, lost in processing, thrown away in restaurants and homes or ended up rotting in America’s landfills. According to the Natural Resource Defense Council (NRDC) 2012 and 2017 reports (the latter including, 50% of our produce is never consumed and a more recent report from ReFed has 126 billion pounds of wasted food annually – a financial waste of $218 billion. Put another way, food loss in America exceeds one third of our defense budget.

WhEagerToDonateat data these and other studies have missed is the food grown and lost in millions of home and community gardens.
In 2015 and 2016, conducted a study with more than 2,500 gardeners nationwide asking two key questions: how much more food do you grow than you can use (i.e. is there food waste) and would you be willing to donate the excess to a nearby food pantry if you had the opportunity (i.e. would you turn what might have been wasted food into a charitable donation)?

The results far exceeded what we could have ever expected. The amount of home grown food that is not consumed is large enough to change the calculated national food waste totals. On the bright side, the number of gardeners willing and able to donate produce could change the national statistics on hunger in America.


Survey Data with Graphs



Home/Community Garden Food Waste White Paper Graphs Infographic Consolidated Report’s goal is to ultimately eliminate 11.5 billion pounds of food waste generated by over 61 million (up from 42 million in the pre-COVID19 world) gardeners’ in backyards all over America. Everything does to achieve this big idea also advances two additional goals: first, reducing hunger and malnutrition, and healing the planet by reducing greenhouse gasses. Read the Case Statement to learn more about’s solution and results.

Special thank you to  Christopher Reberger, Global Economics and Research Practice Cisco Consulting Services (Cisco Systems) for the data analysis and oversight he provided and to report authors Dr. Selena Ahmed and Dr. Carmen Byker Shanks, Montana State University Food and Health Lab faculty for analyzing the data and generating the report.

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