The 8 Benefits of Growing Your Own Food
Author: Sandy Abram Date Posted:7 August 2019
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Eating an array of fresh herbs, fruits and vegetables is great for our health. But often, buying them means it’s not great for the health of the environment. Food miles, plastic packaging and food waste all takes its toll. So could growing our own,... Eating an array of fresh herbs, fruits and vegetables is great for our health. But often, buying them means it’s not great for the health of the environment. Food miles, plastic packaging and food waste all takes its toll. So could growing our own,...
Eating an array of fresh herbs, fruits and vegetables is great for our health. But often, buying them means it’s not great for the health of the environment. Food miles, plastic packaging and food waste all takes its toll. So could growing our own, however small our harvest, be the answer?
Nothing says healthy more than a plate piled high with raw salad, deliciously roasted root vegetables or an overflowing fruit bowl. The problem is, buying fresh produce from the supermarket all too often means a not so healthy situation for the planet.
That’s why we’re championing growing our own food!
Planting seeds, nurturing them to seedlings, then watering and feeding them as they grow into the crops we recognise before picking and eating them freshly picked - imagine the pure and simple joy in that!
Delicious, nutritious, in season and free from pesticides (assuming we choose not to use them) and plastic free, growing your own food has many benefits.
As we all become more conscious of our impact on the environment, growing food in our own small spaces is becoming a big deal. Here’s why...
1. Less Food Waste
Picking our food as we need it is a great way of only using what we need. Surplus produce in shops often gets wasted if it isn't bought before it spoils - keeping it in the ground for longer means it stays fresher. Simply growing our own tomatoes will have a positive impact.
Then if we’re faced with a huge harvest of broccoli or turnips we know we’re unlikely to use, we can give it away to our neighbours. Or trade them for whatever they’re growing.
You could even create a neighbourhood collective where you all decide to grow different crops and share all your bounty when it’s ready.
Another plus is not forcing our food to go through unreasonable beauty standards. If our homegrown potatoes have knobbly bits or our zucchinis are too big, we don’t care! In fact, my kids love them even more!
2. Fewer Food Miles
Supermarkets offer a huge array of choice which at first glance seems great. We can eat what we want, when we want.
However, eating the same food all year round inevitably means that for some of the year, this food has been grown elsewhere in the world and imported in.
Or it’s been artificially ripened using gases and other chemicals.
Are the food miles and carbon emissions worth it when we could grow at least one or two crops in our own backyards? And did you know that a number of fresh fruits, vegetables and herbs have to undergo mandatory treatment upon importation like a methyl bromide spray (which has since been banned for cat food as it was linked to deaths in cats) or heat treatment?
Eating with the seasons places less reliance on air freighted produce and is far better for the environment. It is also said to have nutritional benefits as during winter, perhaps root vegetables is just what our bodies need during the colder months, not cherries. Let’s save those for summer and our festive Christmas table when berries are in season.
Growing salad leaves in the summer and root vegetables in the winter will also help to reduce our individual carbon footprint and collectively that could make a huge difference.
3. No Need for Packaging & Plastic Wrapping
How many times have you gone to the shops with a list of goodies to buy, only to return home with a whole load of packaging that you then have to get rid of? Pretty much every time.
Sweet peppers in cellophane bags, cherry tomatoes in plastic punnets, broccoli in shrink wrapping. It’s all so frustratingly common and so frustratingly unnecessary and wasteful.
Growing your own means literally popping out to the garden and picking what you need when it’s ripe, and bringing it back indoors without a piece of single use packaging or plastic in sight!
Since my bumper crop of cherry tomatoes last year, which was still producing fruit up until July, I have promised myself that I’ll never buy cherry tomatoes in those plastic tubs again. Plus, cherry tomatoes are one of those plants that will happily thrive in a pot and small space so let’s not always bow down to convenience. There is nothing wrong with sometimes going without if it means not compromising our values, or our planet.
4. Save Money
If you’re like me and choose to live an organic lifestyle, and like me, have a family of growing and hungry munchkins, you know how quickly that shopping trolley gets filled and how quickly that bills adds up to at the end.
The first rule of growing your own is to grow the things you enjoy and like and the things you will actually eat. By doing this, you might be surprised by just how much money you can save on your weekly shop when suddenly you don’t have to pay for the expensive snow peas or a bunch of regular items like tomatoes, cucumbers, zucchini and capsicums during the summer months.
I can’t remember the last time I paid for a bunch of silver beet as this hardy all-rounder keeps producing from the very first seedlings I planted well over 18 months ago.
Supplementing your household food supply with your own produce is a great way to save some money at the register whilst saving our planet too. You’ll also be saving money but reducing your food wastage (see # 1) and literally not throwing your money in the rubbish bin.
5. Save Water
I once read, that there is no such thing as a bad gardener, only bad waterers. And with that, I decided to install a basic water irrigation system, which had a timer attached to it, when setting up my veggie garden.
During summer time, this handy system goes off every morning at precisely 6.00am and gently gives my plants a drink for 10 – 15 minutes, depending on how I feel the heat has been.
These irrigation systems, which are readily available and easy to put together yourself, not only take out the hard work of having to stand there with a hose (which I actually find quite therapeutic at the end of the day on a hot summer night) but it means your plants are getting the water exactly where they need it; at their roots.
It’s been shown that agricultural practices are extremely inefficient what it comes to water use and that home-grown food can use significantly less water relative to the amount of food you harvest. Whilst I haven’t done the research on this, I do know that I don’t see a significant change in my water bills and water usage during summer time which is definitely reassuring to see.
6. Know Exactly What You’re Eating
Understanding where our food comes from gives us a better sense of appreciation for what goes into producing the things we eat and by growing our own. An appreciation that we’ve perhaps lost over the past few decades since food has become so freely abundant.
Plus, you’ll know exactly what you’re eating and if you grow organically, you’ll know without a shadow of a doubt, that your food is chemical and pesticide free.
If you have children, grandchildren, nephews, nieces and other little people in your life, get them involved in growing food from seed too.
It will help them better understand that food doesn’t just appear on supermarket shelves and who knows, they could be the slow food farmers of the future!
7. Homegrown Food is Far Tastier!
Picking your own herbs, digging up your own potatoes and carrots or collecting your own beans and peas means that your food simply couldn’t be fresher. By growing your own, you’ll get to enjoy fresher, more nutritious and more delicious food.
From the ground to your plate in minutes means that the nutrients stay intact and the taste can’t be beaten.
Plus, enjoying food that you’ve tended to for weeks adds a certain amount of flavour and joy too, that you’d never get from eating produce grown on a faceless super farm.
8. Good For Your Soul
There is nothing quite like pottering and playing in the dirt to fill your soul with happy vibes. Away from the screens, away from work and traffic, taking it a little slower as you tend to your garden and plants, you can sometimes feel the stress just wash off your shoulders.
And then there are those moments where you’re proudly admiring the baby veggie that has appeared out of nowhere and the anticipation of that day when it will be ripe and ready to pick, or the shouts of celebration when you call out to the kids and partner, “look what I’ve just picked!” or perhaps watching your little ones help themselves to lunch in the garden, as they sneak a little something off a vine two, perhaps a day or several too early. These are the simple moments of life that bring joy.
Getting out amongst nature and doing some gardening is not only a great form of exercise but it’s good for you. Reduce your stress levels, get some fresh air, get some Vitamin D and get yourself a basket full of yummy food to eat.
Starting Small, Dreaming Big
Growing your own food doesn’t mean that you have to become completely self sufficient overnight, or at all.
Even if you don’t have any outdoor space, you could try growing your own herbs in small pots on your windowsill or in trays hanging over your balcony if you have one. Basil, rosemary and mint are great all-rounders.
If you have a garden, dedicating a small section to some simple salad vegetables is a good place to start. Tomatoes and lettuce are among the easiest to grow if you’re just starting out. You can even grow small cherry tomatoes in hanging baskets!
Peas are relatively simple too, and as they grow upwards on a vine, they don’t need much ground space.
Our new range of heirloom seeds from The Little Veggie Patch Co is super diverse. We have everything from simple herbs to tomatoes, leafy greens and pumpkins to edible flowers.
However you start, whatever you grow, make sure you choose seeds that suit the time of year, your soil type and where you live (which dictates your climate). See our When to Plant Map for more details.
And most importantly, enjoy the fruits (and vegetables) of your labour!