Monday, July 2, 2012

Getting Dirty and Growing Food to Grow Your Savings


Maureen Caudill,
Community Financial Asset Protection Department,
in her family's vegetable garden
When you're raising four boys, sometimes you have to take matters into you own hands – and even into your own yard.

That’s exactly what Maureen Caudill of Community Financial’s Asset Protection Department has done at her Fowlerville home.  She and her husband have steadily built a small home garden into one that is almost an acre in size and has fed their family for the last 20 years.

“With four boys to feed, it made sense,” Caudill said, explaining how she got started and why the garden grew so large.

And “feed the boys” she has over the years, with a garden producing almost as many fruits and vegetables as you can name, including corn, cucumbers, watermelon, potatoes, cantaloupe, sweet potatoes, rutabaga, green beans, butternut squash, tomatoes, kohlrabi, cabbage, a variety of peppers, grapes, radishes, onions, leeks, strawberries, blueberries, rhubarb, and apples.

It might sound like a lot of food, but according to Caudill, it all goes to good use.

“What we don’t eat as it’s growing, I can or freeze,” she said.

According to Caudill, she spent plenty of time gardening as a child, planting tomatoes with her uncle when he came up from Florida. After planting throughout her childhood and marrying a man who also always had a garden growing up, the green thumbs came back naturally.

“When we got married, we decided it would be good to do and then it kind of evolved from there,” she said.  “As I get older, I think ‘Let’s grow these,” and my husband will say ‘Let’s grow these.”

While she has never calculated it, Caudill is sure the garden has saved her and her family thousands of dollars over the years.  For example, she estimated that it costs her about $0.30 to produce one quart of spaghetti sauce.

“I’m sure the savings are huge,” she said.

Caudill also says that gardening, like saving money, is a mindset that anyone can get into. “There is dirt everywhere and a pack of seeds is only a dollar,” she said.  It just takes time and a little research.

Research is also the key to saving money and getting on the right track financially.  For example, if you take the time to compare checking accounts and other banking services, you are likely to find you can save money by avoiding things like checking fees. 

These days, Caudill and her husband still spend their evenings and weekends tending to their garden and even racing to the tomato plants to be the first to grab the ripe ones.

“We love it,” she said.  “We just go down there and sit and look at the garden.  It's gratifying knowing you’ve done this yourself.”

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