Growing your own food might sound like an intimidating project.
There is a lot to consider, especially if you do not have a yard that can accommodate a large garden. However the benefits to growing the ingredients to your favorite meals far outweigh the effort.
Planting fruits and vegetables in a garden is not a new trend. Even the earliest civilizations toyed with idea of growing whatever foods were necessary for their family’s survival. After all, cavemen could not live on saber-toothed animals alone.
In this modern age, people are once again taking up gardening to supplement their family’s food supply. This is because the cost of groceries, like the cost of most other things in the world today, is on the rise. Everyone is looking for ways to stretch the family budget.
A Wide Range of Benefits
The benefits to growing your own food stretch more than the family budget, though. The broad range of benefits also extends to areas of our lives such as our physical health and emotional well-being. Here are some other benefits to gardening up the ingredients to our family’s meals.
- Reduce trash. Because you are growing your own food, it does not come in any kind of packaging. That means you are reducing the amount of waste that ends up in the landfill each month.
- Avoid toxins. When you grow your own foods, then you know exactly what products are being used to resist pests and enhance growth. You don’t have to worry about harmful effects of mystery products used on food grown halfway around the world that winds up in your local grocery store.
- Relieve stress. Gardening is one of the most relaxing outdoor hobbies you can do. Getting your hands in the dirt and watching the fruits of your labors – no pun intended! – provides a satisfaction that few other hobbies can provide.
- Sustainable food. Fruits, vegetables, and herbs have seeds that you can use to start next year’s garden or continually grow in a greenhouse. In a world where we look to sustainable materials for everything from our clothes to the building materials for our homes, it is important that our groceries follow suit as well.
- Lose weight. Eating fresh fruits and vegetables is better for your diet, obviously, but did you know that gardening provides plenty of exercise as well? The kneeling and stretching moves required for gardening give your body a healthy workout because it mimics yoga or some other aerobic exercise.
- Improve environment. Planting a garden increases the air quality around your home due to all the extra oxygen from the new plants in the ground. When your environment improves, you feel better which also helps reduce the amount of stress you feel.
- Family togetherness. There is no age limit to gardening. From young children to grandparents, growing your own food is something the whole family can do together and pass on to future generations.
Eat Local, Eat Healthy
Farming is on the decline. According to the National Agriculture Statistics Service, the amount of acreage used for the production of commercially sold vegetables alone dropped by around 300,000 acres between 2001 and 2010. (www.nass.usda.gov)
There is no time like the present to begin growing your family’s favorite foods! Starting a garden is easy, and because the largest benefits are your family’s good health, the return on your investment is priceless. Here are some tips for starting a garden.
- Plan early. Use the winter to decide what you will grow, how much space you can dedicate to grow it, and how you will use up the overage – for example, selling extra food at the local farmer’s market or canning it for later use.
- Start small. If necessary, use containers and start with a patio garden of tomatoes and cucumbers. Or you can begin an herb garden with little to no hassle, and because the plants are container-friendly you can bring them in for the winter.
- Share. If your neighbors have a bumper crop of potatoes and you have an excess amount of peppers or eggplant, then work out some kind of trade. Perhaps you have a neighbor who is elderly or a single parent who could benefit when your garden produces too much food for your family alone.
The biggest mistake people make in gardening is to create more work than what is required. Choose foods you enjoy eating. Plant some seeds into the ground. And get growing!