We had a garden when I was growing up, but I didn’t have much interest in it besides playing between the beds and prematurely pulling out the occasional carrot. Sometimes I’d pull out flowers from the trees and plants and decorate the lattice fencing that surrounded the garden. (That didn’t go over well – Sorry dad! But try to understand, it needed to be pretty so I could have a photo shoot with the cat. That didn’t go over well either.) Point being, my pursuit of a garden or a homestead in general is a relatively new endeavor on my part. In fact, I specifically stated when we first moved here that I had no interest in gardening or working outdoors. That I would do what I had to do, but that was it. Funny how much things can change in a short time.
When it comes to growing your own food, there are four main benefits that come to mind:
- Food is expensive. Over time you’ll save money growing it yourself.
- It’s fresher. When you buy produce at the store it’s likely not from a local source. While there are practices in place to try to keep these foods as fresh as possible during travel, they’re still more prone to be damaged or contaminated than something you’d get from your own backyard.
- You know exactly what’s happened to it. Not everyone is concerned about pesticides, etc. but if you are, it can give you great peace of mind to know exactly what your food has come into contact with.
- It’s essentially promoting better eating habits by default. Since you’d be putting in the time and effort, you wouldn’t want to see all the fruits (and veggies) of your labor go to waste. Most of us could benefit from having more of these in our diet.
Not everyone is going to have the room or the desire to put in the work necessary for a successful garden. However, even if you think you’re one of those people, I’d encourage you to consider what options you do have. Perhaps you could grow something in containers? Or have a small windowsill planter? You may have a community garden in your area that you could take advantage of. It doesn’t have to be food either. Maybe you’d be more interested in a flower garden.
There are actual health benefits to gardening. If you’re tending an outdoor garden, you’re getting more Vitamin D than an alternative inside hobby would allow. Even if you’re gardening indoors, there’s indications that this helps combat feelings of loneliness and stress. (Apparently growing plants in space helps astronauts feel less isolated.) There’s even a study that suggests that gardening lowers your risk of dementia. It’s a physical activity that serves a purpose and feels enjoyable.
From a personal perspective, I think the most appealing thing is being able to combine my desire to nurture and be creative. I look at my backyard and I see an empty canvas. I can fill it up with beautiful colors, shapes, and smells and build my own little haven. On top of all that, I can have all the other benefits I’ve mentioned. I don’t know why it took me so long to explore this area, but I’m just glad I’ve finally stumbled upon it. I hope ten years from now I can look back at this time as the beginning of something wonderful.