Urban Farming

The Importance of Gardening During the COVID-19 Pandemic

We live in unprecedented times, with new and emerging challenges requiring innovative and forward-thinking solutions. The emergence and rapid spread of COVID-19 around the world have re-shaped our very way of life, impacting virtually every aspect of day to day living.

From lost jobs, and shortages of food and cleaning supplies, to social unrest and fear of the unknown, COVID-19 has taken its toll. Yet, it’s during the most trying of times when people come together as a community, working towards common goals and finding ways to take care of themselves and others.

Although considered a pastime or hobby by most, at home gardening as experienced an impressive resurgence in popularity, with more people turning to vegetable gardening as a means to occupy time, ease concerns over potential food shortages, and live a healthier lifestyle.

Through the use of a reliable global weather forecast, aspiring gardeners can now easily plan and prepare their crops, providing key insights into seasonal weather patterns and real-time date information on weather conditions that may impact growth cycles. Have a Meaningful Mental Health This Christmas – 2019× 0% 

Psychological benefits of gardening 

Although the physical health of the nation is largely dependent on adhering to safe practices such as frequent hand-washing and social distancing, with efforts largely aimed at preventing the spread of COVID-19, these practices come at a cost.

According to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), social distancing is directly associated with a higher incidence of:

  • Depression
  • Loneliness
  • Anxiety
  • Anger
  • Frustration
  • Boredom

Research has demonstrated that spending time outdoors is not only good for our bodies but also our minds.

  • Mood booster.  In a survey conducted by San Francisco area hospitals, 79% of patients felt an increased sense of calm and relaxation after having spent time outdoors in a garden. Another 19% reported feeling more upbeat and positive with their outlook, with an additional 25% citing that they felt stronger and refreshed. Another study, published in the Journal of Evolutionary Psychology, found a correlation with improved mood, more frequent feeling of happiness, and a sense of soothing in the presence of flowers. It turns out that both visual and physical stimuli of working or being in or around a garden increases feel-good chemicals in our brains (such as dopamine and serotonin), improving our mood and mental health.
  • Reduce anxiety and stress. If there is one thing that we can all agree on, its that COVID-19, and its downstream impact on our lives, has everyone stressed out and anxious.  In a study published in the Journal of Physiological Anthropology, participants working on tasks involving plants reported feeling more relaxed and comfortable than those working on administrative and computer tasks. Yet another study found in the Journal of Health Psychology found that gardening resulted in a significant decrease in stress and cortisol (stress hormone), with participants subjectively noting an improved mood and positive outlook afterwards. 

Physical benefits of gardening 

  • Enhanced air quality. Plants, both indoor and outdoor, are natural air purifiers, taking air pollution and carbon dioxide in and releasing oxygen in return. This can aid in improving overall health and well-being while reducing exposure to harsh and dangerous toxins.
  • Exercise in the garden does a body good. Around 80% of adults in the United States fail to be sufficiently active in their day-to-day lives, leading to an increased risk of both physical and mental conditions ranging from high blood pressure and heart disease to obesity, cancer, and depression.Gardening is not only a fun pastime or hobby but its also a means to be more active and enjoy all of the benefits that come with it. Keep in mind that regular exercise is key. Plan your days ahead of time and set up a schedule. Know the weather today so you can fit in your gardening time around rain or storms.

Exercise has been shown to:

  • Improve immune function 
  • Reduce stress, depression, and anxiety
  • Improve mood
  • Ward off a myriad of chronic ailments and conditions
  • Stave off obesity
  • Increase mobility
  • Get better sleep
  • Decrease the risk of injury
  • Help you live longer
  • And more…

A Harvard Medical School study found that just half an hour of gardening activities can burn 135 calories or more while helping to develop motor skills and overall strength. If there is one thing no one wants to do amid the pandemic, it visits the hospital. Fresh air and regular exercise can help make sure you stay safe, healthy, and happy.

Encourages and promotes healthy eating habits

Our lives are busier than ever before, making it difficult to plan, prepare, and eat healthily. In fact, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), only 1 in 10 American adults get enough vegetables and fruit in their diet.

Gardening is a fun and rewarding experience for both children and adults to participate in. Those who grow gardens tend to take pride in their crop, having cultivated and cared for it from seed to kitchen table. 

For example, one study from Saint Louis University showed that gardening creates a ‘positive food environment’ and that those children who are fed homegrown food are two times more likely to eat up to five servings of fruits and vegetables a day. Not only that, but home-grown veggies also tend to taste better too, leading to increased consumption.

Place less reliance on grocery stores

COVID-19 not only did a number on our economy, but it also disrupted supply chains and food production worldwide. This led (and continues to lead) to shortages of certain food items. Producing your own crops is a way to not only ensure that you and your family are well-fed, but it can also help reduce the strain put on our food supply chain so that others have access to what they need. However, you’ll need to put in the work and coordinate gardening activities (such as watering) around weather patterns to maximise production. Sites like Worldwide Weather Online can help you forecast in advance, so you’ll know just what Mother Nature has in store for you ahead of time.

Saves money 

Gardening can help your wallet too. With a little planning and hard work, you can efficiently grow a wide range of produce to feed you, your family, and even your local community members.

Final thoughts 

With concerns about food supply, exposure to COVID, and increased awareness of the need to eat healthily, more individuals are turning to gardening.

No matter your level of experience, a little research, planning, and dedication are all that is needed to take part in this growing trend. Whether you have an entire plot of land or just a few window boxes, you too can experience the joy, pride, and health benefits of growing your own food. And you’ll likely feel better too. 

Urban Farming

Wash your hands and don’t kiss chickens: Auburn experts discuss safety measures in backyard farming

Social distancing guidelines to decrease the spread of COVID-19 have many people spending much more time than usual at home. Many may be drawn to the idea of farming in their backyard and need to be aware of the risk of contracting foodborne illness through unsafe preparation. Interior Design Program Coordinator and Associate Professor Lindsay Tan and Culinary Science Lecturer Ana Plana share their expertise with novice backyard farmers on how to cultivate a safe, healthy backyard garden.

What are some of the reasons people might be interested in backyard farming right now?

Tan: Right now, in light of the COVID-19 threat, a lot of people around the country are staying home. For some of us that means more free time—no commute, no travel for lunch and fewer interruptions from socializing with coworkers. For others that means less free time—homeschooling, home cooking and more interruptions from family and housemates. In both cases, backyard farming—growing fruits, vegetables, herbs and raising animals like chickens—is appealing to a lot of people because it can involve everyone in your household in a healthy and productive activity.

Plana: The first thing to consider is why you want to backyard farm and what you want to grow. Right now, you may backyard farm because you want to reduce exposure to COVID-19 by reducing the number of times you have to leave the house to get fresh food from grocery stores and restaurants. You might garden to get access to a greater variety or abundance of your favorite foods like tomatoes, greens or snap peas. And there is evidence that children assisting in the garden will be more open to eating the fruits and vegetables that they grow.

Tan: You might want to eat healthier. A backyard garden is one of the easiest ways for people around the world to get access to adequate macro- and micronutrients from non-staple foods like fruits, vegetables and herbs. And most backyards are large enough for a decent sized garden and a small flock of hens. In some cases, backyard farming can also save money. For example, families that have limited funds for food may find that they can grow specialty foods, like berries, at home for less than it would cost to buy those same foods in the store. On the other hand, some aspects of backyard farming, like raising chickens for egg production, tend to cost more than buying eggs in the store.

Plana: Knowing why helps you to decide what to grow and how to grow it in a way that is affordable, enjoyable and, most importantly, safe.

What do we need to know about safe preparation of backyard fruits and vegetables? What do we need to know about the safe handling of backyard poultry and eggs?

Tan: I think you should not be surprised that the number one thing we would tell you is to wash your hands.

Plana: That’s right. Even if you create an organic garden or use organic pest deterrents, it is still absolutely essential to wash your hands after working in the garden and to wash all of your produce before cooking or eating it.

Tan: Even a healthy-looking garden can be a reservoir for pathogens—bacteria, viruses, fungi, protozoa, helminths. Some of these pathogens are part of a natural and beneficial ecosystem for your plants, but they can still make you and your family sick if the food from the garden is not handled properly.

Plana: Make sure to cook vegetables to an internal temperature of 135 degrees Fahrenheit. If you have a backyard flock, cook eggs that you will eat right away to 145 degrees and those that you’ll save for later to 155 degrees. Poultry must be cooked to 165 degrees.

Is there any difference in how we should handle produce, eggs and meat from the backyard versus from a grocery store or restaurant?

Tan: Have dedicated clothes and boots for poultry care and handling. Change your clothes and wash your hands after handling birds. And never snuggle or kiss your chickens—seriously. Even flocks that seem healthy can be a reservoir for pathogens that cause human diseases like salmonellosis or the flu. Commercial flocks and their eggs are managed following strict biosecurity protocols. In the backyard, even some basic commonsense biosecurity measures can make a big difference in safety.

Plana: Backyard flocks are not the only potential source of risk, either. Make sure your garden is not feeding or bringing other unwanted critters to your backyard by using organic methods to keep them away. And, again, wash your hands.

Tan: After working in the garden. After handling backyard animals. Before cooking or serving food.

Plana: All food from any source should be handled properly: Wash your hands, wash your produce and cook food to the minimum safe internal temperature. There are some differences, though, between the food we buy from the commercial food supply chain—food from the grocery store and restaurants—versus the food we grow right in our own backyards.

Tan: Grocery store eggs, for example, are pre-treated to eliminate pathogens, which is part of the reason they need to be refrigerated. Eggs from a backyard flock, though, come straight from the coop to the kitchen and that has benefits and risks. It is especially important to cook eggs and meat from backyard flocks to the minimum safe internal temperature.

Plana: Restaurants have rigorous protocols they must follow; for example, each must have a minimum of one employee that is ServSafe certificated. Additionally, restaurants, in most areas, have unscheduled health inspections to assure the community these public places are safe.

Is backyard farming worth the cost and potential risks?

Plana: Having a home garden can be a great idea and extremely rewarding if you truly know what you are getting into. Just like a new puppy, it might sound like fun, but it takes a lot of work and commitment. Caring for a garden isn’t just planting the seeds. You need to tend and care for your garden regularly.

Tan: Right! Backyard farming is “work, hard work” and I am incredibly grateful for the commercial farmers—locally and nationally—who work even harder every day to keep grocery stores full of all the foods we know and love.

Plana: If you are like me and don’t have a “green thumb”—you tend to kill most of the things you plant—it is best to leave it to the experts. In times such as these, we can support our local farming community by signing up for a community shared agriculture, or CSA, so that you have access to fresh, local produce and know that your money is being invested in local families and the local economy.

Tan: For me and my family, backyard farming is worth the work and the cost when we minimize the risks by following good safety protocols. I like that involving my kids in tending to the garden and our flock shows them the effort it takes to put food on the table at every meal. And I like that they get excited to eat new foods that they helped to grow.

Plana: Whatever you decide to do, whether you are shopping at the grocery store or growing food in your own backyard, getting takeout or—someday soon—dining in, remember that we each have a role to play in food safety. Wash your hands, wash your produce and cook food to the minimum safe internal temperature. And never, ever kiss your chickens.

What are some resources that backyard farmers/home growers can take advantage of during this time?

American Egg Board

Stone Barns Center:

Food Tank Article:

Activity book by the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO)

CDC’s Backyard Poultry page:

 FDA’s Guide to Food Washing:

Don’t kiss your chickens:

Urban Farming

13 Advantages Of Growing Plants Within A Greenhouse

Benefits of Gardening using Outdoor Structures and Greenhouses

Greenhouse gardening offers many benefits that go beyond the benefits of conventional gardening.   How Do Plastic Bags Affect Our Environment?[Advertisement] Your video will begin shortly: 0:01

Whether you choose to go with a very simple greenhouse or a more elaborate one, you can still enjoy a variety of great advantages.

If you’re considering growing plants inside a greenhouse, here are a few bit advantages you’ll want to consider.

Advantage #1 – Longer Growing Season

One of the main advantages to growing in a greenhouse is that it offers you a longer growing season.

  • Temperatures don’t vary as much within a greenhouse, since the sun’s radiation is trapped in the enclosure, retaining the heat within the structure.
  • Growing seasons can be extended, even in cold climates.

Advantage #2 – Garden in Any Weather

Keeping up a garden in bad weather can be difficult. With a greenhouse, you don’t have to worry about this since everything is covered. Even if it’s pouring rain outside, you can garden and keep dry.


Advantage #3 – Grow a Wide Variety of Plants

You have the ability to grow a wide variety of plants when using a greenhouse. It allows individuals to enjoy experimenting with exotic plants that are not found in the local area.

Advantage #4 – Protection from Pests and Predators

The production from pests and predators by the greenhouse is another huge advantage.

  • Pests and predators like moles, deer and squirrels can be easily kept out.
  • Smaller pests, like certain rodents, can be kept out with the addition of traps and screens.
  • Strong greenhouse plastic can be purchased from online retailers (like Simply Plastics, for example), which can make the process much easier.

Related:   Guide to Growing Cantaloupe


Advantage #5 – Create the Optimum Growing Environment

With a greenhouse, you have the ability to create the optimum growing environment for plants, whether you’re growing herbs, vegetables, flowers or other types of plants.

  • Creating an optimum growing environment helps you to enhance the growth of plants, giving you the benefit of healthier, better producing plants.

Advantage #6 – Protect Plants from Bad Weather

Bad weather can end up destroying plants, even in the best tended outdoor garden. Bad weather like high winds, dust storms, thunder storms and blizzards can all cause damage. However, a greenhouse offers plants a layer of protection from the elements.

Advantage #7 – Go Green with Your Greenhouse

Growing plants within a greenhouse allows gardeners to go green, which is a benefit to gardeners and the earth. Adding more plants helps to provide a fresher, cleaning atmosphere, making a greenhouse a great tool for fighting global warming.


Advantage #8 – Grow Plants without Dangerous Pesticides

Many people are unhappy about the dangerous pesticides found on many commercially raised crops.

It’s possible to grow plants without all those dangerous, toxic pesticides when growing in a greenhouse. Gardeners can control what they use when growing their own produce.

Advantage #9 – Keep Beneficial Insects Inside

Certain insects are beneficial to plants, such as ladybugs.

  • They can help to keep the population of nuisance insects under control. In an open air garden, beneficial insects can easily leave.
  • However, greenhouses contain these insects, which can keep problems with nuisance insects from occurring.

Related:   Patio Farmer: The World of Container Gardening


Advantage #10 – Easily Customize the Greenhouse to Your Needs

When you build a greenhouse, you have the ability to easily customize it to your needs.

This means you can decide on a greenhouse that works well with the types of plants you intend to grow.

Advantage #11 – Enjoying Raising Your Own Food

Some individuals grow plants as a food source. Using a greenhouse to grow food year round allows gardeners to enjoy the advantage of lower food bills.

Advantage #12 – Save Energy

Greenhouse gardening can even offer the advantage of saving energy.

When using a greenhouse, it’s possible to conserve energy sources like water, since these energy sources can more easily be controlled as opposed to traditional gardening.

Using a greenhouse is not just about the benefits and advantage’s of growing plants, but also about changing the lifestyle’s and live a more environmentally friendly life.about:blank


It’s also about teaching children and family members to garden, as it is a vital skill to learn and brings families closer together.

Advantage #13 – Relaxation and Stress Relief

Last, growing plants within a greenhouse offers the advantages of relaxation and stress relief.

It offers a great place where you can get away and enjoy tending the plants.

Gardening can help to reduce stress levels and using a greenhouse makes sure you can enjoy this all year long.

greenhouse gardener cheat sheet infographic
Urban Farming

Gardening for Climate Change

For millions of Americans, gardening is much more than a hobby—it is a passion. Unfortunately, climate change is threatening the gardening experience across the country. Fortunately, there are actions that you can take to be part of the solution—even while gardening.

Why Gardeners Care

As many gardeners and backyard wildlife enthusiasts across the country have noticed, climate change is already having a significant impact on our backyard habitats.

  • Higher average temperatures and shifting precipitation patterns are causing plants to bloom earlier, creating unpredictable growing seasons. Even warm-weather plants like tomatoes can be harmed by increased temperatures.
  • Invasive, non-native plants and animals’ ranges are expanding and making them more apt to take advantage of weakened ecosystems and outcompete native species. Some of the most problematic species, including kudzu, garlic mustard, and purple loosestrife, may thrive under new conditions and move into new areas.
  • Climatic shifts also mean that many native and iconic plants may no longer be able to survive in portions of their historic range. In fact, many states across the country may lose their official State Trees and Flowers. Imagine Virginia without the flowering dogwood or Ohio without the Ohio buckeye!
  • Important connections between pollinators, breeding birds, insects, and other wildlife and the plants they depend on will be disrupted. Pollinators such as hummingbirds and bees may arrive either too early or too late to feed on the flowers on which they normally rely.

These are major warning signs indicating that we need to take meaningful steps now to curb our carbon emissions. Given the strong relationship between gardens and natural variables such as temperature and rainfall, a changing climate will create some enormous new challenges for gardeners. Numerous studies show any potential benefits from a longer growing season will be outmatched by a host of problems—from watering restrictions and damaging storms, to the expansion of unruly weeds and garden pests.

Climate Solutions are in Gardeners’ Hands

Although the predictions for climate change are dire, they are not inevitable. Just as serious consequences are projected, the impacts will be significantly lessened if we take steps now to reduce our carbon pollution. We can also take actions to help both natural and human communities adapt to the changes that are already underway.

Gardeners are both stewards and guardians of our environment, and can make a difference in the fight against climate change. Below are some ideas for how, we can make a difference both in our own backyards and communities, and across the country.

Taking Action in Your Backyard and Community

  • Improve your energy efficiency. Using energy-efficient products and reducing your household’s energy consumption will reduce your contribution to carbon pollution. In your backyard alone, you can replace outdoor light bulbs with high-efficiency LED bulbs, install outdoor automatic light timers, or purchase solar-powered garden products.
  • Reduce the use of gasoline-powered yard tools. Avoid using gasoline-powered tools such as lawn mowers and leaf blowers. Instead, use human-powered tools such as push mowers, hand clippers, and rakes or reduce the amount of lawn area that needs maintenance. Using a gasoline-powered mower for an hour pollutes 10 to 12 times more than the average car.
  • Reduce the threat of invasive species expansion and incorporate diverse native species instead. Removing invasive plants from your garden and choosing an array of native alternatives can minimize the threat of invasive species expansion. Native plants help to maintain important pollinator connections and ensure food sources for wildlife; nonnative plants can outcompete these important native species for habitat and food. Contact your local or state native plant society to find out what plants are native to your area.
  • Reduce water consumption. There are a number of ways to reduce water consumption in your garden, which is particularly important during increased heat waves and droughts. These include mulching, installing rain barrels, adjusting your watering schedule, and using drip irrigation. Practices like mulching also provide nutrients to the soil, reducing the need for chemical fertilizers which take significant amounts of energy to produce.
  • Compost kitchen and garden waste. Composting this waste can significantly reduce your contribution to carbon pollution, especially methane, a highly potent greenhouse gas. It also provides an excellent source of nutrients for your garden, again reducing the need for chemical fertilizers.
  • Plant lots of trees to absorb carbon dioxide. Trees can absorb and store as much as a ton of carbon pollution (CO2) from the atmosphere. If every one of America’s 85 million gardening households planted just one young shade tree in their backyard or community, those trees would absorb more than 2 million tons of CO2 each year. Shade trees planted near your home can also reduce energy used for cooling in the summer.
  • Connect places for wildlife by certifying your backyard or neighborhood as a Certified Wildlife Habitat™ with the National Wildlife Federation. By certifying your own backyard and encouraging your neighbors to do the same, you can turn your neighborhood into a Community Wildlife Habitat, which can help maintain or reconnect fragmented habitats and provide ways for wildlife to better cope with the impacts of climate change.

Actions for Your Elected Officials

In addition to implementing solutions in your backyards and communities, gardeners can play an important role in moving America toward a cleaner, safer, and more sustainable future by contacting your elected officials at the local, state, and federal levels and urging them to implement a strong plan of action to combat climate change and safeguard people and wildlife from climate change impacts.

Contact your members of congress and let them know that you support the Clean Power Plan, EPA’s first-ever rule to regulate carbon pollution from power plants. This rule will benefit wildlife and our communities and foster the growth of clean energy. Ask your members of congress to vote against any measures to delay or weaken this standard and advocate for protecting our gardens from the impacts of carbon pollution.

Urban Farming


The Eugene Backyard Farmer Thrives!

Bill Bezuk, owner of The Eugene Backyard Farmer, gives back to his community through his knowledge of urban farming.

The Eugene Backyard Farmer, or otherwise known as Bill Bezuk has quite the green thumb. From raising chicks, to tending to bees and to growing his own produce, the owner of this local business has mastered the business of at home urban farming.

Bill Bezuk has been digging in the dirt for as long he can remember and has always been intrigued by urban farming. He has brought this concept to life in Eugene and has costumers throughout Lane County coming to his store with their backyard farming needs.

In the store any costumer can find and purchase an array of items. Seeds, organic bees wax, shovels, chicken feed, feeders, wooden beehives, plants, books and even baby chicks! Bill Bezuk has just the right items to get anyone started on getting their backyard farm up and going,

A local, regular costumer of the Eugene Backyard Farmer, Martha Ray, describes Bill Bezuk in one simple sentence, “Bill is so knowledgeable and I truly believe that he wants to spread the word about backyard farming to the entire Eugene community!”

Bill Bezuk is extremely passionate about his work within the Eugene and Lane County community. Spreading knowledge to the public about the massive benefits to owning your own chickens, having your own fresh honey comb and growing your very own produce is a main goal of The Eugene Backyard Farmer.

The motto of The Eugene Backyard Farmer is, “Simplicity. Sustainability. Self-Reliance,” and that is exactly what you get with Bill Bezuk and his local business. Bill Bezuk wants all of costumers to succeed in creating their own biodynamic backyard that can produce successfully. It brings joy to Bezuk to see return costumers in his store continuously trying to make their gardens flourish as much as possible. And when he sees these familiar faces, he knows that he has helped another costumer find their connection to farming.

“The gratification of being to produce your own food on your own land is a wonderful feeling because it is in its purest form. And I love knowing that I grew something for myself. And having fresh eggs is a nice perk too” says Martha Ray.

The popularity of owning your own chickens and baby chicks has become recently very popular in Eugene. Owning chickens and chicks has become a trend that keeps growing and growing and Bill Bezuk knows all too well about raising chicks and incorporating them in your backyard farm. Bezuk strives to acknowledge to public about how simple urban, backyard farming truly is and he has done that with the help of his baby chicks.

Like Martha Ray, many other residents in Eugene and Lane County have hopped on the owning chickens wagon and have incorporated them into their daily lives and routines thanks to help of The Eugene Backyard Farmer and its owner.

Other than just having his own store to encourage backyard farming, Bill Bezuk also hosts various classes to the public that he teaches as well. Some of these great and informative classes concerning urban farming include classes on keeping backyard chickens and Top Bar Beekeeping for beginners. These classes may sound out of the ordinary for some people, but Bill Bezuk strives to get people out of their comfort zone and to try something new, like backyard, urban farming.

With more and more people giving urban farming a shot, more and more people are spreading the word as well. Backyard farming is becoming much more prevalent which means Bezuk’s costumers are reaping the benefits of having their own produce. Not only are Bill’s costumers growing their own natural produce, they are also consuming their foods at the highest and purest quality.

Many young families who have children are fully embracing the concept of urban farming. Bill Bezuk explains that many people do not know where their food is really coming and what chemicals their produce are being with. Feeding children pesticides at such a young age is not exactly what is best for their health. Even buying organic foods may not be nutritionally good enough for kids. This is why these young families go to Bill; so that they too can have their families reap the benefits of urban farming.

Bill Bezuk even sells informative children’s books at The Eugene Backyard Farmer to get young kids interested in urban farming right from the get go. Kids are never too young to start learning about chickens, gardens and bees!

Bill Bezuk seeks out to help people of all ages create a sustainable, producing backyard garden, beehive, and chicken coop. This concept of urban backyard farming has completely flourished in Eugene and Lane County because of the hard work, determination and knowledge that Bill Bezuk has put into his work at The Eugene Backyard Farmer.

His passion for connecting with the land and his animals has spread to his costumers and it seems to be that passion of backyard farming is spreading all throughout Eugene. His knowledge and love for urban farming is infectious and he knows that without the fertile land and without his animals, none of what he is doing would be possible.

Bill Bezuk is not all work all of the time though. He always takes moments out of his day to pet his cats and tend to his adult chickens and baby chicks on a much more personal level.  Even though these animals are not for play and have jobs of their own, they’ll never pass up one on one time with Bill. He loves his animals and enjoys seeing their faces on a day-to-day basis.

Bill Bezuk is an honest man who enjoys giving back to his community in the purest, most natural way. His local business has flourished for a few years now and is continuously gaining popularity amongst the community. He strives to spread the word about backyard farming through his store and through the knowledge he has to offer. Giving back to his community is what The Eugene Backyard Farmer does best!

Urban Farming

10 Veggies Anyone Can Grow On Their Own

Early spring is a great time to start a garden, even if you’ve never planted a single seed before. Not only can cool-weather gardening result in sweeter vegetables, there are other benefits, too. Growing your own food means you’re eating produce when it’s most nutrient-dense, since foods can lose some of their nutritiousness after they’re harvested. “And the fact that you have grown food yourself changes everything,” says Matthew Benson, author of Growing Beautiful Food and farmer of Stonegate Farm in New York. “You have a back story about your food.”Benson, Rodale

Benson recommends starting simple, taking it slow and not being obsessed with perfection. “Things are going to fail. You are going to get fungi and insects. It’s going to perplex you,” says Benson. But with easy tips and a dose of enthusiasm, Benson says you could have a garden in just a few weeks.

Here, click though for 10 foods even beginners can grow.

MORE: The 50 Healthiest Foods of All Time

(Some basics: For all the veggies recommended you will likely need around eight to 10 inches of soil. If you’re not planting in your backyard, but say, a rooftop, Benson recommends a mix of soil with peat moss, perlite and vermiculite. Also, a lot of planting timing goes based on frost dates, so be sure to look them up before you start. Try here or here.)

Get our Health Newsletter. Sign up to receive the latest health and science news, plus answers to wellness questions and expert tips.

 SIGN UP NOWYou can unsubscribe at any time. By signing up you are agreeing to our Terms of Use and Privacy Policy. This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy Policy and Terms of Service apply.

Contact us at


Close up of spinach plants

Benson recommends first-time gardeners start by planting a bed of loose leaf lettuce. After just three weeks, your greens will be ready to harvest. Go for spinach, arugula, mustard greens, mizuna or asian greens. “You can literally go out with a scissors and sort of give a portion of the bed a haircut, put it in a basket and two weeks later and that section you just harvested will have re-grown,” says Benson. “That’s really a thrill to be able harvest your own salad.”

Growing your own greens also has health benefits. Lettuce can lose about half its nutrient value in just 48 hours after its been picked, Benson says. “If you are getting a salad and it’s coming 2,000 miles away, it’s basically just chlorophyll.”

How to grow spinach (and other loose leaf lettuce): Make sure your spinach seeds get both sun and some afternoon shade. Plant spinach early spring when it’s still cool. Keep seeds at least 2 inches apart, planted 1/2 inch deep in the soil. At three to five weeks, you can start cutting leaves for your salad. They will continue to grow, even with the trimming.Advertisement

Edible Flowers

Nasturtiums (Tropaeolum) including 'Alaska' and 'Empress of India'

Edible flowers like nasturium are a simple and tasty addition to a garden.

“There are varieties of nasturtium that are deep dark blood purple and there are varieties that are orange streaked with yellow,” says Benson. “A nasturtium tastes something like a floral version of arugula. It has this intense heat to it.”

How to grow nasturtium: Nasturium does well in the sun, but in the summer it needs a little shade if it’s very hot. The best time to plant is two weeks before the last spring frost. The seeds should be covered in 1/4 to 1/2 inches of soil. They can also be grown indoors in pots. It will take about one to two weeks until you start to see the flowers. Simply snip off the flowers and petals for eating.



Every new gardener should start out with some simple herbs like basil, chives, cilantro, parsley, thyme and dill. They require very little space and can make all the difference in a meal.

“Cities have certain things you have to deal with, and finding a place to grow is one of them,” says Benson. “Even if you take a little of your fireplace or rooftop or windowsill, that’s enough—grow some herbs.”

Herbs can be expensive to buy in the store, but they’re cheap and simple to grow. Benson likes to grow several varieties of basil.

How to grow basil: Basil likes the sun, and grows easily in warm temperatures. Benson recommends planting basil seeds one to two weeks after the last spring frost. The seeds can be planted 1/8 inches deep and at least 10 inches apart. Snip off the leaves during the season to encourage more leaves.Advertisement

Bok Choy

Bok Choy growing in vegetable garden

Bok choy is a veggie high in antioxidants and vitamin A, and depending on the variety, it can add some color to your plate. Some bok choy varieties can have deep purple leaves.

How to grow bok choy: Bok choy grows well in the spring sun, and in light shade during the summer heat. The best time to plant is early spring through midsummer and bok choy seeds should be planted eight to 10 inches apart, with about 1/4 inch of soil coverage. Once the plant reaches about three inches, you can start cutting small leaves for eating, or cut the entire head for a one-time harvest.Advertisement


Fresh Kale on Weathered Door

Leafy greens like kale are good for gardeners since they can grow all season long.

“I know some people don’t get the whole kale craze, but it has the highest nutrient and protein density of any green,” says Benson. “When it’s cold, their cell structure takes the starches that are in them and converts them to sugar as a kind of protective response to cold weather. After a few frosts, your kale actually gets sweet. It’s programmed to last as long as it can.”

How to grow kale: Kale does well in the sun, but also in cool temperatures. Plant the seeds in your garden around three to four weeks before the last frost, 1/4 inches deep in the soil. About a month after planting you can start harvesting your kale. Snip the leaves near the bottom of the plant first or the baby leaves near the crown.Advertisement

Rainbow Chard

Red chard growing in wooden crate

Chard is a colorful leafy addition to a garden and can reach up to two feet tall with bright red stems.

Growing chard yourself is a good idea since this veggie is not known to ship well and finding it in good quality in a grocery store can be difficult.

How to grow chard: Chard does well in the sun and in cool temperatures. The seeds should be planted 1/2 deep one to two inches apart. The best time to grow chard is around the last frost of spring. You can harvest your chard once the plant is about six to eight inches tall.Advertisement

Cherry Tomatoes

Farming Cherry tomatoes

Tomatoes are easy to grow, and cherry tomatoes are a good place to start. Regular tomatoes can be “prima donnas,” according to Benson. They do well is very specific temperatures which can be tricky for gardening newbies to navigate. Cherry tomatoes on the other hand are a cinch. “Home grown tomatoes are better than what you get in the store,” says Benson. “Home grown fruit is not laced with fertilizers and pesticides. Fruit really gets hammered with that stuff.”

How to grow cherry tomatoes: Find a sunny spot for tomato seeds and make sure there is deep soil for their roots. As they start to grow, tie them to a supporting stick or tomato cage. You can start picking them when they change color.Advertisement



Cucumbers grow easily in warm conditions and Benson says once you start growing cucumbers it’s hard to go back to buying them at the grocery store.

How to grow cucumbers: Make sure soil is warm when planting cucumber seeds. Plant them at least one week after the last frost around one to two inches deep in small hills of soil that are a few inches high. Keep them around two feet apart. Use a trellis to allow the cucumber plants to grow upwards. Once cucumbers reach full size, start harvesting them each day.Advertisement


Peas on the vine

Snap peas also grow easily. “You want to be as vertical as you can when you’re growing in a small space,” says Benson. And peas fit that bill.

How to grow snap peas: Plant seeds in the early spring about four to six weeks before the last spring frost. Benson recommends planting them 1/2 to one inch deep and four to six inches apart. Snap peas will grow into tall, lanky vines, and it’s a good idea to tie them to a small trellis for support. You can pick the peas when they are bright green and plump.Advertisement


Harvested carrots lying in soil

Carrots will always be a garden mainstay, and though root vegetables may seem more intimidating, new gardeners can find them worthwhile and easier than expected.

“We know less about what’s going on under our feet than we do what goes on up in the cosmos,” says Benson. “It’s so mysterious, all of these interesting relationships between roots and rhizomes and microbes and all these cellular chatter that goes on in the dirt.” Pulling veggies from the soil can be very satisfying for a first time farmer.

How to grow carrots: Carrot seeds should be covered with around 1/4 to 1/2 inches of soil about two to three inches apart, and should be planted two to three weeks before the last spring frost date. Keep the soil moist. Seeds can take around three weeks to start to sprout. Depending on the variety, carrots are typically ready to harvest after 46 to 65 days.

Urban Farming

Health and Environmental Benefits of Gardening

What are the benefits of gardening?                                                       

There are various benefits of gardening and we divide into 3 types:
#Health benefits of gardening
#Environmental benefits of gardening
#Financial benefits of gardening.

Gardening in our life, (either in early childhood, school or home) is very crucial because of mental benefits, heart benefits, social benefits, and environmental benefits of gardening even gardening helps in financial benefits also. Gardening helps you in the burning of calories and lower the risk of various diseases. According to the studies, benefit of gardening helps in  reduces the risk of heart attack and stroke. There are many Benefits of home Gardening and can help us a lot.
Some people ask
Is gardening good for you?
Why gardening is good for the environment?
What is the scope of gardening?
why is gardening important?                                                              How does gardening benefit the environment?

The answer is simple “yes” read how

Health Benefits of Gardening

Stress Relief

A study in the Netherlands, cited by CNN says gardening fight stress better than any other hobbies. Gardening helps in reducing cortisol level. “Cortisol” (the stress hormone ) may influence lower immune function and bone density, increase weight gain, blood pressure, cholesterol mental illness, and lower life expectancy. So get out in your garden and start gardening.

Health benefits of Dirt

Dirt is good for you because it  has natural antidepressant which helps in increasing serotonin.  Decreasing  of Serotonin has side effects like a sad depressed mood, low energy, negative thoughts, feel tense and irritable, crave sweets. Serotonin in human body contributing in wellbeing and  happiness also Dirt is good for your immune system as well.

Gardening helps in stress relief
Rimol Greenhouses


Gardening is a physical activity and has physical benefits. Gardening is an  exercise which is very beneficial for your body. The important thing while Gardening that you don’t even realize you’re breaking a sweat. When you are gardening you move here and there in reaching for plants and tools, at that time you bending, twisting, stretching and lifting of your body as a result helps in strength, stamina, and flexibility. Pushing a wheelbarrow, picking weeds, planting seeds, carry equipment, put manure, moving pots, pushing a mower, gives you a full body work out for your muscles.


Gardening exercise

Hand strength

According to a study published in hortscience, with  gardening activities older adults can improve their hand strength and self esteem at the same time and may even help neutralize some of the strain caused by repetitive use like typing or phone swiping.Nowadays people spending more on hands exercise tools for their hand’s muscles which is not affordable by all types of people. Gardening is not only reducing your expenses of hand tools but also helps in hands strength, make the good shape of your hands and much more. 

Hand strenth
Manitoba Co-operator

Mental Health Benefits of Gardening

Gardening and mental health are connected to each other. According to the study, gardening helps in reducing dementia by 36%. In this research, 2805 people over the age of 60 for 16 years are being studied. In this study, they studied their lifestyle and activities and found that people who do gardening had lower the risk of dementia.

According to the research published in the Journal of Alzheimer’s Disease, Gardening is not limited to exercise, it also gives us a healthy workout for your brain.  This report suggested that regular gardening helps in lower the risk of Alzheimer’s disease by 50 percent. Gardening also sharpens your mind. Mental health benefits of gardening plays an important role in our life.

Gardening improves brain health

Helps in loneliness

A healthy bacteria that found in the soil, can increase levels of serotonin and reduce anxiety. Dirt contains a natural antidepressant which makes us happier.  Just viewing a garden can have positive psychological benefits.

Gardening helps in loneliness
Alternative Resources Directory

Reduce Hearth Risk

Gardening is a moderate-intensity exercise and has many benefits but one of the most helpful and important benefits of gardening is that it helps in reducing the risk of stroke and attacks. According to the Stockholm study, regular gardening reduces stroke and heart attack risk by up to 30% above the age of 60. Gardening for seniors helps in joints. Gardening activities for just 10 minutes gives you a good amount of vitamin D which helps in fight with dangerous diseases like cancer, osteoporosis and other heart diseases.

gardening helps in reduce heart risk
Ritchie Feed & Seed Inc.


Most people do gardening as a hobby and it gives them self-satisfaction. Planning, planting and watching your own garden grow can give a person  satisfaction and pride. Gardening also gives you inner happiness.

gardening helps in self satisfaction
Money Crashers

Sleep Better

According to the Research at the University of Pennsylvania suggests that the activity involved in gardening can help you sleep better at night.

gardening helps in Sleep Better

Financial Benefits of Gardening

Increase Property Value

The first impression is the last impression yes it is true, having a garden may increase your property value. A beautiful garden outside your house may add attractiveness to your house, in turn, increase the overall value of your house. It is estimated that due to a well-maintained landscape can add as much as 10 % to the value of your home.

Follow these tips for making up smarter your yard to increase the chance of your home sell quickly.

  1. Entrance should be attractive.
  2. Grow seasonal plants
  3. Clean up your yard(visible algae, remove leaves)
  4. Repair faucet leaks
Beautiful house having garden
Dream Home With Patios

Benefits of Growing your own Garden

Growing your own vegetable in your garden without pesticide and chemicals are known as organic gardening. Growing your own vegetable not only gives you a proper nutrient but helps in save more (if done wisely) by buying expensive organic vegetables.Regularly used vegetables like tomatoes, potatoes, beans, onions, broccoli, cucumber etc.these vegetables give you a good amount of return. Start your gardening from a small space then when you are confident then grow more vegetables and Encourage your neighbors to grow vegetables.

organic gardening
Dixi Books

Environmental Benefits of Gardening

Use of Scrap

The logical cycle: Plant to crop to the kitchen and again to plant. Use of scarp in gardening with or without compost bin helps your soil to add nutrient, and moisture. There is various type of composting: aerobic, anaerobic, and vermicomposting.
In aerobic, air (nitrogen and moisture) helps to break down materials quickly.
In anaerobic bacteria and moisture helps to make compost.
and In vermicomposting certain species of earthworms are used to make compost.

Use of Scrap in Gardening
Alexis Bellamy (youtube)

Save on Electricity

Gardening benefits are helped in many ways as we discussed above but the environmental benefits of gardening are very helpful, it does not only save our electricity bills but can help in balancing the environment. Well – maintained gardening can help in reduce heating and cooing it up to 10% by providing shade to cool roofs, walls, and windows.

Planting and Save 

plants helps in save electricity

Increase Oxygen

Benefits of gardening for the environment helps in increases the level of oxygen and removes harmful air pollutants from the air. Some plants and vegetables produce the most oxygen compare to other plants for example snake plants, palm , and sprouts.

plants help in increase oxyzen
Photo by Mokkie
Urban Farming

Raised Beds vs. In-Ground Gardens

When starting a community or school garden, the first thought often turns to the building of raised beds. In the context of community and school gardens, the term “raised bed” refers to an elevated box that is relatively small in size and filled with enough soil to support plants without using the soil underneath the box.

Raised Beds

A raised bed frame can be made of wood, masonry or other building material. Raised beds can vary in size depending on the site, the materials used in their construction and gardeners’ preferences. Raised beds are typically 6 to 8 inches high, 3 to 6 feet wide and 6 to 8 feet long. Some raised bed frames are further elevated above the ground with blocks or bricks to make them more accessible to people who have difficulty bending or stooping.

For community and school gardens, there are many advantages to gardening in raised beds, including:

  • Manageability: Raised beds offer a manageable way to garden a smaller space intensively.
  • Prevention of soil compaction and plant damage: One of the greatest advantages of raised beds comes from the protection the structure provides from foot traffic, especially from children working in a garden area. Since people work on the paths and don’t walk in well-designed raised beds, the soil does not get compacted and plants are less likely to be damaged.
  • Longer growing season: Raised beds warm up more quickly in the spring and drain better (assuming the soil is properly prepared), allowing for a longer growing season and better growing conditions. Particularly in the South, a properly prepared raised bed allows plant roots to breathe.
  • Less weeding and maintenance: Once the soil in a raised bed has stabilized, compaction is almost non-existent so the need for seasonal tilling is minimal. Weed populations decrease over time in a raised bed that is well cared for and mulched.
  • Better drainage: A well-prepared raised bed allows the soil to drain better than in an in-ground garden. In some areas of Georgia, the soil drains so poorly that raised beds enable gardening of crops that would not otherwise grow.
  • Easier soil amendments: A raised bed can enable crop growth in an area that otherwise would not support gardening. On steep slopes, raised beds can act as a form of terracing. Raised beds can be built on parking lots and other compacted, difficult-to-garden urban soils. For specific crops that thrive in particular soils, raised beds can be amended appropriately.
  • Material conservation: Because the gardening space is concentrated, the management of water, fertilizer, mulch and soil amendments can be more carefully controlled, leading to less waste.
  • Access for gardeners with disabilities: Raised beds, at the proper height, can improve access for wheelchairs, or for gardeners who have a hard time bending over.
  • Reduced conflict: In gardens where plots are leased for the year, raised beds clearly define boundaries and reduce inadvertent trampling.

In-Ground Gardens

For many school and community gardens, growing directly in the ground offers significant advantages. Gardening in the ground allows the use of tractors to initially prepare areas and the start-up costs are far lower than for raised beds. Other advantages include:

  • Use of existing soil: Most soils are perfectly fine for gardening, provided the soil is properly tilled, mulched and watered. Even without organic amendments, most Georgia soils can produce a bountiful harvest.
  • Financially economical: By using existing soil and not importing soil, money can be saved and used for organic amendments that would be needed to improve even the imported soil. Since it is highly unlikely to find real topsoil in Georgia, it is often better to improve what you have than import something new and possibly unknown. Purchased topsoil is usually either man-made (consisting largely of bark and sand) or similar to the soil already available on-site. If amended properly, clay soils have benefits that are not found in man-made soils. If you are uncertain of the quality of your soil or how to amend it, take samples to your local county Extension agent for testing. See for information on how to do this. If there is any chance the soil has been contaminated with potentially toxic compounds, ask to have the soil tested for heavy metals.
  • Less start-up work: A flat, well-drained area can be prepared with a tractor or large roto-tiller.
  • Less permanent: An in-ground garden can easily be replaced with another crop or moved to another location.
  • Lower water requirements: In-ground beds won’t dry out as quickly as raised beds and will therefore require less water to maintain.
  • Easier irrigation: Irrigation systems for flat, in-ground gardens are simple to design and easy to install compared to raised beds that require careful design and installation.

While there are many advantages to raised beds, there are also some disadvantages. Raised beds require the construction of a wall or edge restraint. While this can be built with recycled materials, it still requires additional work, at least initially. Elevated raised beds are even more expensive and require some degree of engineering to support the weight of the soil. Raised beds also need to be filled with soil, which can become expensive and requires a good understanding of soils and soil amending. Raised beds are more permanent than in-ground gardens, so planning for future use is essential. Some crops are not well suited to raised bed production. For example, sweet corn requires larger blocks of plants to ensure proper pollination. Watermelons tend to overtake a small raised bed, unless compact varieties are grown and perhaps trellised. Finally, most raised bed gardens rely exclusively on hand labor for all tasks, including planting, fertilizing and weeding.

Before starting a community or school garden, it is important to consider which type of garden is appropriate for your current and future needs and the amount of time and resources your situation will require. See the other publications in this series for more information about planning, creating and sustaining a community or school garden.

Urban Farming

Environmental Benefits of Urban Farming and Agriculture

What is urban farming?

There is of course your herb garden in the kitchen and the kitchen garden in the rear yard that can be termed as urban farming. But this is a term that has grown to encompass several other types of farming as well. The use of grow-bags (leading to creation of the term “bagiculture”) to grow crops in densely populated cities is one such.


More particularly urban farming refers to the use of vacant lots to actually create agricultural produce and by locating farming endeavors in and around cities. Not only idle land within cities, this type of farming also utilizes community gardens, rooftops, window sills and any available space. Concepts such as organic farming, rain water conservation and storm-water capture can be encapsulated within urban farming.

Benefits of urban farming

Firstly there is an optimum utilization of vacant land; particular areas where commercial utilization is either impossible or not allowed.

Then there is the fact that farms create green islands in a sea of concrete masses. This helps to improve air quality of the area.

Another positive impact is that urban farming also helps to mitigate what is often referred to as the “urban heat island effect”. This refers to the fact that cities are typically warmer than surrounding areas rural and even suburban areas. Studies have demonstrated that green rooftops can help lower temperatures.

Farms can help with water conservation, helping retain water and rerouting it to underground water tables rather than causing it to run off as it would on concrete and other man made surfaces.

Urban farms allow city people to consume local produce. It can reduce costs that become added to food due to the need to transport produce over long distances. The energy consumed in transporting produce from rural farms to city shops is also saved.

Another benefit is that more green patches in our cities are quite simply more attractive. Also urban farming makes for a wonderfully relaxing method of recreation.

Urban Farming

5 Great Benefits To Having A Backyard Farm

One of the most intriguing home trends of 2020 has been the rise of backyard farming. People in both urban and suburban areas across the United States have been digging out their shovels and growing their own produce and raising their own livestock from the comfort of their own homes.

The benefits of backyard farming are multiple, ranging from social to mental to financial. If you are considering starting your own backyard farm but are still on the fence, here are five reasons why now is most definitely the time to do it.

Having a Backyard Farm

1. Save Money on Food

One of the most obvious benefits of growing plants and producing in your own backyard is financial. It’s no secret that maintaining a healthy diet in the US can be an expensive undertaking.

However, by farming at home, you can soon have a reliable supply of fresh fruits and vegetables all year round. Start a farm today to embrace a healthier way of living.

2. Starting a Backyard Farm is Easy

Any backyard farm 101 guide will quickly teach you that starting a farm in your yard is not as difficult as you may think. For example, take a look at this guide on what you need for raising chickens at home.

It explains that you can build a coop for backyard chickens in just a few minutes. The same applies to virtually every other aspect of backyard farming. Just a little bit of elbow grease is all you need to make it work.

3. Enhance Your Connection with Nature

In an age where we are stuck at home more than ever before, that connection to nature is essential. If you don’t have a national park on your doorstep, you will be looking for innovative ways to enjoy the great outdoors.

A backyard farm is a way to safely spend your time outside and really connect with the land. This is something that is truly priceless.

4. Create Perfect Gifts for Loved Ones

With the holiday season approaching, surely the last thing you want is to burden your friends with the same department store gifts you get them every single year.

Rather than another bottle of wine or online shopping voucher, you can give them a truly meaningful gift in the form of home-grown produce. If if it is not a special occasion, you can always offload excess produce to your grateful friends.

5 Great Benefits to Having a Backyard Farm

5. A Hobby That Lasts a Lifetime

Whether it’s chickens for backyards or a homegrown bushel of vegetables, the joy of backyard farming never truly fades. There are few things more satisfying than watching all of your efforts come to fruition, proving that you can truly work the land.

Once you have gotten the grasp of backyard farming, you have a hobby and skillset you can take anywhere with you. All you need is a little bit of outdoor space and a passion for produce.

Expert Lifestyle Guides at Your Fingertips

Starting a backyard farm is a simple way to vastly improve your lifestyle and your quality of living.

For more essential lifestyle guides and hacks, we have got you covered. Our Lifestyle guides contain all of the latest and greatest tips on how to live a better life in 2020. Get reading today.