The Benefits of a Home Garden
Now that it’s March, I know I’m not the only one eyeing my backyard and perusing seed catalogs. Here in Michigan, it’s almost time to start germinating seeds indoors. In some parts of the country, the outdoor planting has already begun!
More and more people are choosing to put the time and effort into growing their own food, and there are several reasons why the modern garden is experiencing a serious comeback.
1. Home Gardens Save Money
Unemployment is still hovering around 9.5% (roughly 14 million people), and there are at least 9.3 million people who are underemployed. Both of these numbers don’t reflect people who are part of the “working poor”, those who have full time jobs but barely making enough to make ends meet.
Starting a home garden helps families like this make it from paycheck to paycheck. They can make the difference between going to bed hungry or going to bed on a full stomach. And they can help stretch a food budget until the next payday.
2. Home Gardens are Eco-Friendly
Today at lunch I was listening to NPR’s Diane Rehm as she talked about organic standards. And the guest stated that although food transportation (or “food miles”) isn’t a huge chunk of our worldwide greenhouse gasses, they’re still a contributing factor.
When you grow your own food, you help cut down on these greenhouse gasses by not purchasing food that was trucked across the country to your table.
3. Home Gardens Force You to Exercise
The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) states that 34% of Americans are obese, and 33% are overweight. 18% of teenagers are obese, and 19% of children aged 6-11.
Overweight and obesity is an epidemic in this country, and most experts agree that to get healthy exercise has to be a daily part of our life. Home gardens give you a good reason to get outside and get some badly needed exercise. This can also help relieve stress and tension.
4. Home Gardens Are More Nutritious
People are increasingly becoming aware of how harmful pesticides and fertilizers are. The organic food industry continues to see double-digit increases as more of us make the switch to organic foods, especially produce.
A home garden gives you complete control of your food. You can choose to create an organic garden (the healthiest choice), and keep all those chemicals out of your family’s diet. Although research is on-going, some studies have shown that organic food does contain a higher amount of vitamins and minerals.
Whether or not home-grown food is more nutritious remains to be seen. However, there’s no doubt that growing your own food is safer than buying it from large, industrialized farms that liberally use chemical pesticides.
Home gardens can also help you and your family eat more fruits and vegetables per day. According to Discovery Health, less than half of kids 18 and younger get the required amount of fruits and vegetables every day. When you can run to the backyard to pick peas or tomatoes for dinner, it’s much easier to make eating these foods a habit.
Home gardens don’t require a ton of space. My backyard is teeny tiny, and I still find room to plant a decent garden each year. And, I’m definitely getting more creative in how I use my space so I can fit in even more vegetables (especially using containers and vertical gardening). This year kale, pole beans, grape tomatoes, and herbs will have priority.
What about you? Do you have a home garden? If so, what are you planning on growing this year?