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Inch by inch, row by row: Home and community gardeners harvest more than a crop

It may not be a wheatfield waving, but all across the Capital District, people are dreaming of late summer bounty as they put their own personal crop into their backyard, a community garden or a big pot on the deck.

Across the nation, gardeners spent $1.154 billion in 2005 on vegetable gardening, according to a 2006 national gardening survey conducted by the National Gardening Association in Burlington, Vt.

What's the appeal?

It's rewarding, don't you think? said Dean Plummer of Delmar's nursery and gardening supply shop Price-Greenleaf. "Also, the taste and the freshness."

As if to pay testament to Plummer's words, Eunice and Josh Peacetree paced up and down by the table of young vegetable plants, not unlike kids in a candy store.

"Tomatoes, eggplants, cukes, peppers," Josh Peacetree, groundskeeper at Siena College, said as he walked.

"We're getting some 4x4 railroad ties and making raised beds," Eunice Peacetree said. "It's our second year in the house, so it's our second garden."

Why do they do it?

"It's better than buying produce," Josh Peacetree said. "You feel more connected to the earth and it's more environmentally friendly."

"People have a desire to know what they're eating," said Bill Giniecki of The Country Garden on Consaul Road in Niskayuna. "Especially vegetables that come from overseas, could have pesticides that we don't use any more in this country."

Like the Peacetrees, Giniecki rattles off the names of vegetables " most of them started from seed in his hoop house. The favorites? Tomatoes, cukes, summer squash and peppers.

"Vegetables are a big product this time of year," Giniecki said as a quick summer storm started hitting his plants. "Years ago, families living in two-family houses in Schenectady would turn their whole, small yard into a vegetable garden. It was amazing what they could grow. A lot of young people are trying vegetables again."

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