Over the years, the task of food production has been handed over to large scale farmers as we were finding it easier to visit our local grocery stores than to grow our own gardens. A vegetable garden is probably something that your mother or grandmother tended and has since become a distant memory. But with recent awareness of pesticides, GMO foods and increasing food costs, people are once again opting to grow their own. In fact, according to the 2009 Edibles Gardening Trends Research Report conducted by the Garden Writer’s Association (GWA) Foundation, more than 41 million U.S. households (38 percent) planted a vegetable garden in 2009. This trend has only grown in tremendous numbers in the last three years.
Why is growing your own food becoming so trendy? I’ll tell you why.
Save green by being green: Fellow permaculturist and food activist Ron Finley stated in his latest TED Talk, “Growing your own food is like printing your own money.” As your garden grows, so will your pockets. Not only will you pay pennies for seeds, but you will be surrounded by abundant amounts of food. If you buy heirloom, non-hybrid species, you can save the seeds from the best producers, dry them, and use them next year.
Eat better tasting food: There is no contest when I say that fresh food is the best tasting food! This is why we often opt to pay top dollar at high end restaurants. Comparing the flavor of a homegrown heirloom tomato with the taste of a store-bought genetically modified variety is like comparing fresh orange juice to latex paint. When it comes to vegetables, if it tastes better, then it is better for your body. When the food tastes better you will be more likely to eat the vitamin-rich fresh produce that you know your body needs.
Family health benefits: One of the most important things you and your family can do to stay healthy is to eat fresh fruits and vegetables. When you tend to your plants in your backyard or in pots on your deck, you and your family are more likely to “graze” on the fresh nutrient-rich produce.
Stress reduction: Gardens provide a space of serenity, quiet and tranquility. By nurturing your plants health you are simultaneously providing yourself with a time to be quiet, live in the moment and center your mind. When you are planting, weeding, watering and harvesting you add purposeful physical activity to your day. If you have kids, they can join in, too. Be sure to lift heavy objects properly, and to stretch your tight muscles before and after strenuous activity.
Variety: You will get a bigger variety of your favorite fruits and vegetables because you can choose from hundreds of different seed varieties and you can grow the things you like the best.
Waste less food: According to Business Insider, Americans wasted $165 billion worth of food in 2012. When you grow your own food you have an attachment to your produce. You are less likely to throw out a veggie you tended to for weeks than neglect it until it molds over.
Education: You can teach your children or grandchildren where their food actually comes from and that it doesn’t come from the supermarket but from the soil, the earth that we all depend on.
Take pride: Growing your own food takes the term “made with love” to a new level. “Growing your own food is one of the most purposeful and important things a human can do — it’s work that directly helps you thrive, nourish your family, and maintain your health. Caring for your plants and waiting as they blossom and “fruit” before your eyes is an amazing sense of accomplishment!”
Control your food: Stop worrying about if pesticides or petroleum products have been sprayed on your food. By growing your own you are in control of what fertilizers are being used and how pests are eliminated. By knowing your produces’ entire life, you can also virtually eliminate the paranoia of massive food borne illnesses, product recalls and salmonella poisoning.
Rita Manna is a landscape designer, permaculture designer and landscape architecture graduate student. Specializing in water conservation techniques, permaculture garden tactics, and native plantings, she is the owner of Reet’s Garden & Design located in Eagle-Vail. Call 970-310-1423, visit www.reetsgarden.com, or email her at ReetsGarden@gmail.com for more information.