As prices and uncertainty climb and food shortages loom, the reasons to start a garden and grow your own food are clear. Many people feel an urgency to start a garden and become more self-sufficient. If you haven’t already, today is the best time to start a garden and learn how to grow your own food.
1. Easier access to organic food with no pesticides
You won’t have to wonder what is in or on your food. Organic produce is more expensive in stores because it is more challenging to grow food organically on a large scale. If you are tired of paying extra for fruits and vegetables that (hopefully) are pesticide and chemical-free, learn how to grow your own.
2. Starting a garden means more diversity in the foods you eat
Ever wonder why you tend to see the same varieties of produce at the grocery store? Mass production means growers choose fruit and vegetable varieties that quickly produce large yields and withstand shipping without bruising.
However, when you plant a garden, you choose the types of produce you grow based on flavor and texture (not how long it lasts before going bad). Glance through a seed catalog, and you’ll have your choice of dozens of different types of each vegetable.
3. The higher nutritional value is one of many reasons to start a garden
Once picked, the nutritional value of fruits and vegetables begins to decline.1 The short distance from the garden to your table ensures fewer nutrients are lost. In addition, vegetables left to ripen in the ground or on the vine often have more nutrients than those harvested earlier.2
4. Harvest at the peak of flavor
You are in control of when food is harvested. Like your zucchini small? You can pick it at any size. Want a fresh juicy peach right off the tree? No problem (just get it before the birds do!).
Sugars in food begin turning to starch once picked. That is why asparagus, corn, peas, strawberries, and more all taste the best fresh-picked!
5. More access to fresh fruits and vegetables
A garden can provide fruits and vegetables year-round, depending on where you live. Learn to preserve the excess through freezing, canning, and freeze-drying.
Plan your meals around what is growing in the garden, and you will learn to love the changing harvests throughout the year.
6. Learn a new skill and then teach others
The wonderful thing about gardening is it is simple enough for a child to understand, but there is also more to learn than one person will ever master in a lifetime.
Knowing where your food comes from and how to grow it is empowering. Once you understand the basics and begin to have success, teach others what you have learned.
7. Starting a garden keeps you active and gets you outside
A garden provides ample opportunities for activity: weeding, turning the compost, harvesting, mulching, etc. Once you have a garden, spending time each day in your garden is essential.
8. Reduced waste and energy consumption
There is no need for long-distance transportation when your garden is outside your door. The extra packaging for produce is eliminated as well. And finally, kitchen scraps and yard waste are composted instead of heading to the landfill.
9. Improved mental health is one of the many reasons to start a garden
Although anxiety and depression are challenging, digging in the dirt can clear your head and bring peace and contentment. Gardening connects you to nature; spending time around plants can ease stress (it does for me!). Finally, caring for others (even if it’s a plant) gets you outside of yourself and your own needs.
10. Food security and self-sufficiency
One of the most important reasons to start a garden is to be able to feed your family. When I see empty shelves in stores, I appreciate that I can walk outside and gather most of the fruits and vegetables my family eats. Then, when the growing season ends, preserving excess harvests helps stock the pantry. The added benefit of extra yields is sharing the abundance with others.
Start where you are, start small, and begin today. Don’t worry if you aren’t perfect at first. Learning to grow your food isn’t an event; it’s a journey.Angela Judd
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Sources for this article about the reasons to have a garden:
- Corilee Watters, “The Nutrition Benefits of Eating Locally,” Hānai’Ai / The Food Provider, Western Sustainable Agriculture Research & Education, 2013.
- Diane M. Barrett, “Maximizing the Nutritional Value of Fruits & Vegetables,” University of California – Davis.