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Urban Farming

You can earn extra income from urban farming

Most people living in urban areas have to buy their food. Some of them go to restaurants for their meals and others buy the food items and take them to their homes.

For many of those who buy their food from markets, its transportation to their homes often costs money. However, it is possible for people living in towns not only to grow their own food but also to engage in commercial farming.

Just imagine you are a livestock farmer, keeping poultry and two or three Frisian cows on perhaps half or a quarter of an acre where you also had a garden of some vegetables in a densely settled area.

Very likely your neighbours would not want to spend money boarding a boda-boda or driving to the market to purchase vegetables, milk, and eggs.
As a farmer and producer of the items you would most probably charge less for your products than any trader in the market would.

There was an article in the August 3 2020 digital AGRA publication titled: “Urban agriculture thriving in East Africa during Covid-19”authored by Richard Wetaya.
It was written in the article, “Kampala typically depends primarily on agricultural produce grown by farmers in outlying areas of the country. But the lockdown and transport restrictions disrupted the links between rural and urban areas, threatening the city’s food security. In response, urban and peri-urban farmers began catering to the city’s numerous food markets, where they’re doing a roaring trade in leafy vegetables, Irish potatoes, plantain, corn, fruits, and vegetables.”

Backyard farming has since gained greater importance as more people discovered that it was an excellent means of earning additional income to their regular salaries.

When a husband or wife goes to work in an office the spouse can engage in backyard farming at home not only to produce food for the family but also to generate some money. Some farming businesses don’t require a lot of space so long as there is sufficient water.

It is possible, for example, to keep a thousand or more layers and two or three Fresian cows on half an acre or less.

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Urban Farming

What are the Benefits of Growing a Vegetable Garden?


What are the benefits of growing your own vegetables? Vegetables are so easy to grow especially in sunny spots. And you don’t need a large yard to build a vegetable garden. Even the tiniest slice of space can be transformed into a lush, thriving garden.

If you love the idea of growing your own produce then building a vegetable garden will save you hundreds of dollars on grocery. You’ll also have the peace of mind knowing that the vegetables you eat are grown with lots of TLC! Still torn about the idea of building a vegetable patch? In today’s post, we are outlining all the amazing benefits of growing your own vegetables:

Vegetables being planted in the garden

Improve Your Health

Fresh vegetables are a central part of a healthy diet. Vegetables are loaded with essential nutrients that promote better health, including antioxidants and vitamins. Adding fresh vegetables to your daily meals is the best way to boost your health, and your loved ones’ health too.

Children, in particular, will benefit from the health-giving nutrients of fresh vegetables. Studies show that children who are fed with homegrown produce are twice more likely to eat 5 servings of fresh fruits and vegetable a day compared to children who rarely or never ate homegrown veggies. Unfortunately, kids are not great fans of greens. Starting them young is a great way to get the kids to appreciate vegetables early on.

Save Money on Food

Stocking up on fresh produce grown from the yard means having more food to enjoy for weeks, even months, without spending a dime on store-bought vegetables. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, an average household spends about $550 per month on food, spending more on fresh produce compared to eggs, dairy, sugar, and other staples. If you’d like to reduce your grocery expenses, try growing your own crops. You won’t believe how much money you will save from growing your own food!

Most households spend 60% of their food budget on meals and snacks. A small packet of seeds costs about a few cents. Growing vegetables from seeds allow you to plant a huge variety of vegetables, which you can harvest at different seasons. If your pantry is overflowing with vegetables, you can always preserve these so you can enjoy healthy veggies even after the growing season is over!

Newly sprouted plants being held.

It’s Eco-Friendly

Gardening is inherently eco-friendly, more so if you are growing vegetables without using any type of chemical. Growing food organically means sparing the earth of water, soil, and air pollution. Since you are buying less produce from the supermarket, you are not contributing to the use of fossil fuel from transporting fruits and vegetables to your local grocery. If you are growing crops without using pesticides or herbicides, toxic chemicals won’t seep into the soil and waterways. You can enjoy the earth’s bounty without harming the environment.

Effective and Enjoyable Workout

One of the benefits of growing your own vegetables is that it keeps you fit. Most people want to work out but not all of us are comfortable at the idea of lifting weights or enrolling in a fitness class at the local gym. Gardening is a wonderful hobby for anyone who’d like to achieve a trim and healthy physique. All that weeding, planting, watering, and harvesting tone the muscles and build strength. If you don’t like lifting weights, completing all your gardening activities is similar to working out but it’s much more organic and enjoyable because you are doing something that nourishes your soul.
 
If you are always stressed out and you don’t or won’t go to the local spa to de-stress, try gardening. Doing something meaningful or purposeful is a great stress reliever. Going out there and getting some fresh air and sunshine certainly helps soothe frazzled nerves!

A bunch of vegetables being carried

Healthy, Sustainable Food

Dining out or having takeouts is nice every once in a while but restaurant food and fast foods pale in comparison to homemade meals made from fresh, sustainable ingredients. Usually, resto meals and fast foods are high in sodium, sugar, and additives that are bad for the health. Also, there is no way to say if the ingredients are organically grown.

Organically grown vegetables are healthier, more flavorful compared to store-bought meals. Unfortunately, organic produce is more expensive than your average fruits and vegetables. Wouldn’t it be great to have access to organically produced vegetables at home? Growing your own food allows you to enjoy sustainable fruits and vegetables whenever. You can prepare your meals and have total control over the quality of the ingredients while spending less money on food.

Minimize Waste

Did you know that the average American household throws about $600 worth of food every year? Most people are so used to accessing food conveniently, never thinking about the hard work that comes from growing the said food. It’s much harder to waste food when you grew your own food.

When you are growing your own food, you are less likely to take fruits and vegetables for granted. You are also likely to preserve or use up your supply before it spoils. Building a vegetable garden is also a great way to teach your children about the importance of utilizing whatever bounty the earth has provided to its fullest and avoiding waste!

Different kinds of vegetables on the table

To make your vegetable garden even more sustainable, you can build your own compost pile using kitchen scraps and organic garden debris. By building a compost pile, you can turn organic scraps into natural fertilizers for your garden.

Building a vegetable garden takes a lot of hard work and commitment but as long as you are devoted to growing your own food, you will reap the benefits of growing your own vegetables! It’s also easy to turn any available space into a garden patch. Just use small containers if your garden space is limited. Found these gardening tips useful? Tune in for more! Subscribe to our newsletter to get the latest gardening resources straight to your inbox!

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Urban Farming

10 Impressive Benefits of Urban Farming

The benefits of urban farming improve the lives of those in the community as well as the farmer’s life.

Urban farming refers to growing crops in a metropolitan area. Examples of urban farms include indoor farms, rooftop greenhouses, vertical farms, living (edible) walls, community gardens, and more!

A traditional farm is often far away from the community it serves; meanwhile, urban farms rely on proximity to consumers to build a blooming business.

In this article, we’ll look at some of the most impressive benefits of urban farming.

Proximity

Urban farms are grown in city centers and other densely populated areas, so they’re closer to their consumers than field farms.

Traditional farms ship food across the state, country, or even world. Urban farms cut the cost of transporting goods down by selling to customers who live in the same area.

This leads to farm-to-table produce, meaning the food didn’t pass through any third parties like supermarkets, resulting in fresher produce.

Accessible

Urban farms can help increase food security by providing inexpensive, fresh produce to low-income communities.

In 2018, 37.2 million people were food insecure in the United States, meaning they didn’t have access to enough affordable, nutritious food.

Being in the heart of the community means transportation doesn’t have to be included in the cost of the produce, resulting in cheaper, more accessible food for the people who live near the farm.

Adaptable

One of the benefits of urban farming is that it’s adaptable.

Urban farms can be opened in spare rooms, backyards, rooftops, warehouses, shipping containers, or basically anywhere else. This cuts the need for purchasing and building on new land by repurposing indoor and outdoor spaces.

They can also be ran by one person, a family, or an entire community, creating jobs and volunteer opportunities that help people build new skills.https://www.youtube.com/embed/kSQm09twKEE?feature=oembed

Low-Risk

Urban farming allows you to start small by using space you already own. This is a huge advantage because purchasing land or buildings big enough for large-scale operations is expensive.

Not having a huge financial burden on your shoulders from the start lets you work on your urban farm without the pressure of bankruptcy.

As a result, you can experiment with systems and crops to find what works best.

Builds Community

Another one of the benefits of urban farming is it helps build strong communities by stimulating the economy and providing a mutually beneficial experience.

Urban farms can be multifunctional by providing a space for social gathering, which enriches the ties between members of the community.

These farms, such as community gardens, have been shown to help during crises, leverage resources, and foster social interaction between diverse groups of people.

Improves Mood

Urban farms can also provide mental and physical benefits for farmers and visitors.

Plants can lower blood pressure, increase attentiveness, increase productivity, and improve well-being of people in the same vicinity, according to Psychology Today magazine.

This is great news for farmers, but also for the community. Urban farms ran by a collective community can provide a healthy escape for residents from the hustle and bustle of industrial cities.

Property Value

Urban farms can also positively impact the value of the neighborhood it’s in, especially if the neighborhood is poor.

A total of 13 studies found that property values increased when there was a community garden nearby.

When this happens, people are more likely to purchase homes and move into the area. One study found that over a 10-year period in St. Louis, Missouri, home ownership in neighborhoods with a community garden increased by 13%.https://www.youtube.com/embed/fj5itkZiJ_s?feature=oembed

Local Demand

Nielsen research found that 48% of consumers prefer locally produced ingredients and food. Urban farms supply this demand.  

In urban farming, the farmer is more connected to the community they serve, allowing them to be more familiar with the community’s wants and needs.

When planning crops, small farmers should identify unmet demand for certain produce in the local market. Urban farms make it easier to supply trendy food to meet this demand.

Saves Space

Urban farming saves space because a variety of growing systems can be used to cultivate crops.

Vertical and hydroponic technology allow urban farms to grow high volumes of plants without the sprawling land that field farming uses.

Vertical farms grow more per square foot because plants are grown in stacks. Meanwhile, hydroponically grown crops don’t use soil. As a result, crops can be planted closer together, fitting more crops in a smaller space.

Higher Yields

The ability to grow vertically and hydroponically also allows urban farms to yield more produce per square foot than field farms.

Oftentimes, hydroponic and vertical systems are used together for maximizing yields per square foot. This process is referred to as cubic farming.

Vertical indoor farms have the potential to yield 50 times more harvest than field crops, according to a study published by the International Society for Horticultural Science.

Now that you know the benefits of urban farming, it’s time to get started.

Visit our website or call 602-753-3469 to find out more about how you can open an urban farm using our Pure Greens hydroponic container farms.

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Urban Farming

Benefits Of Growing An Organic Garden

No matter where you go today, people are talking about organic foods. From the daily paper to the local super-center, organic is definitely in. No longer are organic fruits and vegetables just for treehuggers or the old hippies; they have come into the mainstream diet with a bang. So what exactly are the benefits of growing an organic garden? Keep reading to learn more. Benefits of Growing an Organic Garden Below, I’ve outlined five of the reasons why, if you have a garden, it should be organic. 10 Sec 17.2M5.3K Pothos Propagation: How To Propagate A Pothos Taste – While many organic fruits and vegetables will not have the uniform look of those you purchase in a supermarket, they will have superior taste — a virtual explosion of flavor that bears little resemblance to the taste of commercially raised produce. Nothing tastes better than fresh fruits or vegetables straight off the vine, tree, or plant. For fruits and veggies that don’t have to be cooked, they can be tasted right there in the garden. Health – An organic garden is free from toxic chemicals, which means that the produce is free also. Your fruits and vegetables will not have a chemical residue that would enter your body if not thoroughly washed away. Organic produce has also been shown to have a higher vitamin and mineral content than produce grown with the use of chemical fertilizers, pesticides, and herbicides. By planting your own organic garden, you are assuring yourself and your family the best possible fruits and vegetables. Plus, you have the added benefit of exercise; from planting the seeds to carrying in the harvest, working in your garden will help tone your body and work off extra calories. Money – Planting your own organic vegetable garden will save you money. That is something we all want to do. Buying organic produce at farmers markets and health food stores can cost up to 50% or more over the regular supermarket. By growing your own, you save money at the store, and in these days of rising fuel costs, you won’t have to make as many trips for the perishables. Preserving the excess will enable you to make your garden last long into the winter months without have to purchase ‘greenhouse’ vegetables from the store. Spiritual – Ask any gardener, especially an organic gardener, what they think about while tilling the soil, planting seeds, or pulling weeds in their garden. You’ll probably get an answer similar to these: “it’s my time with my higher power,” “being in the garden brings me closer to nature” and “working in the soil and watching the garden grow makes me feel I am part of something larger” or “it’s meditative” and “my time of prayer.” Environment – Since organic gardeners use no chemical pesticides, herbicides, or fertilizers, none of these chemicals can run off and find their way into the water supply. Another benefit of this lack of chemical run-off is that small animals, birds, and beneficial insects are not harmed. Because organic gardeners are continually building up their soil with organic matter, there is less erosion of topsoil leading to general erosion, which can impact an entire area. By putting organic waste into compost, you are helping relieve landfills from waste that would otherwise be taking up space there. The benefits of organic gardening are many. I have only listed a few of the best. Your next step is learning to preserve the excess. By simple methods of freezing, drying and canning, you can literally enjoy the fruits of your labor on the coldest days of the winter. Even if you don’t have room for a large garden, or can only container garden, the use of organic gardening principles will reward you in many different ways, including having the best and healthiest produce.

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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.

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.

Put 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. 


Peter Wallace has been an advocate for mental health awareness for years. He holds a master’s degree in counselling from the University of Edinburgh.


Disclaimer: Psychreg is mainly for information purposes only. Materials on this website are not intended to be a substitute for professional advice, diagnosis, medical treatment, or therapy. Never disregard professional psychological or medical advice nor delay in seeking professional advice or treatment because of something you have read on this website. Read our full disclaimer here

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Urban Farming

7 Benefits of Gardening That Prove It Helps Your Mind and Body

Gardening isn’t just about making your house look good (although a little curb appeal certainly never hurts). Caring for plants can also do wonders for your own wellbeing, an abundance of scientific research suggests. The physical exercise can contribute to a healthy weight and blood pressure levels, and just interacting with flora can improve your mood and mental health.

“Nature has a huge impact on health and wellness,” says Gwenn Fried, manager of Horticulture Therapy at NYU Langone’s Rusk Rehabilitation. “We know that people’s cortisol levels go down in a calm, green environment.”

Roll up your sleeves and get digging, planting, and weeding this spring and summer. Here’s how tending to your garden beds will benefit you in the long run:

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1. Gardening burns a lot of calories.

Good news for those who already spend hours planting perennials: Gardening is considered moderate-intensity exercise. You can burn about 330 calories doing one hour of light gardening and yard work — more than walking at a moderate pace for the same amount of time — according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

Men and women who participated in a community gardening program also had significantly lower BMIs (body mass indexes) than their otherwise similar neighbors, according to a 2013 study in the American Journal of Public Health.

2. It can lower your blood pressure.

Just 30 minutes of moderate-level physical activity most days of the week can prevent and control high blood pressure. In fact, The National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute recommends gardening or raking leaves for 30-45 minutes as examples of how to hit that recommended amount.

Woman watering flowers in garden with watering can

3. Spending time outside is good for your bones.

When you’re outdoors and your skin is exposed to the sun, it prompts your body to make vitamin D. This vitamin — also found in fish and fortified foods like milk — helps your body absorb calcium, a mineral essential for bone formation, according to the National Institutes of Health. (FYI: You should still apply sunscreen if you’re planning on spending more than a few minutes in the sun to lower your risk of skin cancer.)

4. Growing your own food can help you eat healthier.

Besides the physical exercise you’ll get tending to a vegetable garden, a productive plot can also promote a better diet by supplying fresh, healthy produce. The Dietary Guidelines recommends eating at least 2 cups of vegetables and 1½ cups of fruits per day to get necessary nutrients and reduce risk of chronic disease. However, only 1 in 10 Americans adults meet those recommendations, according to the CDC.

Gardening helps people develop a lasting habit of eating enough fruits and vegetables though, according to 2016 research from the University of Florida Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences. This may work not only by providing fresh veggies but also making it more likely for children to try foods they may not have eaten before, research from the American Society for Horticultural Science theorizes.

Harvested vegetables, gardening gloves and hand cultivator garden

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4. Gardening can relieve stress.

Gardening is positively correlated with a reduction in depression and anxiety symptoms, according to a 2017 meta-analysis in Preventive Medicine Reports that looked at 22 different case studies.

In fact, some hospitals even use planting and flower arranging as a type of rehabilitation for people recovering from injuries, strokes, surgeries, and other conditions. NYU Langone’s horticultural therapy program helps patients rebuild both their physical and mental health, Fried says.

Not only does it give people control over a situation when they might feel helpless, but it also teaches them a new skill that can restore confidence. “They don’t really see a value in themselves because how they define themselves has changed, but being be able to take care of something is a good place to start,” she says.

These benefits can extend outside of a healthcare setting too. “People are so busy — there’s so much stress now with electronic media all over the place,” Fried says. “People need respite and nature provides respite.”This content is imported from {embed-name}. You may be able to find the same content in another format, or you may be able to find more information, at their web site.

6. It can provide a source of community.

You don’t have to weed alone – nor should you. People who worked in allotment gardens had significantly better self-esteem, total mood disturbance, and general health compared to those who did not garden, according to a 2016 study published in Journal of Public Health. Even better, it’s something almost anyone can partake in. Fried runs a horticultural therapy group for Alzheimer’s patients as activity for them do with their caretakers and families.

Hispanic father and daughter gardening together

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7. Gardening can make you happier.

The act of growing plants may also help boost your mood. The 2017 meta-analysis also linked gardening with increases in quality of life and reductions in mood disturbance. This may have something to do with how it changes your outlook.

“The thing about gardening is that you have to have faith in the future,” Fried says. “Growing something green, something real, something alive, is a hopeful thing to do.”

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Urban Farming

The importance of gardening during COVID-19 pandemic

NEW BRUNSWICK, N.J. — What can gardening do to help with the coronavirus pandemic? Gardening has always been touted as a relaxing recreational activity that can provide great personal rewards. During this time, when many people are working at home and students are learning at home, gardening can be a positive family-inclusive activity to adopt.

Remote schooling is new for most all students in our community. Hands-on activities like gardening can encourage children to participate in a way that will enhance learning. Gardening can teach young, preschool- and elementary-aged children, to reinforce skills such as measurements, addition, subtraction, counting, sorting into categories and colors. Practicing motor skills and learning work ethic are also life-skills taught through gardening.

From a mental aspect, growing a vegetable garden may be a way for adults and children to cope with boredom and help families gain a sense of security. Historical experiences during trying times have given us examples of how important gardening can be in our society.

With World War I came food shortages. Everyone in the U.S. was encouraged by the federal government to plant a Liberty Garden. The U.S. School Garden Army was formed during this era to teach children to garden and help them feel a sense of contribution towards the war effort. Liberty gardens went away soon after WWI ended in 1918, since a high percentage of the America’s workforce was already engaged in farming and other agricultural jobs.

In the 1930s the Great Depression, had millions of people out-of-work and desperately poor people gardened to survive. They grew a limited range of basic foods that were easy to grow, mostly potatoes and beans, that were filling, high in calories and nutritious.

By the early 1940s, World War II emerged and, once again, the public was asked to help the war effort. National Victory Gardens began and everyone who was able-bodied gardened–individual families and community groups. In 1944, 40 percent of the food grown in the U.S. came from National Victory Gardens. In 1945, WWII ended, and farmers who survived the war without went back to working the land. Fresh food was once again abundant and predominantly on farms. Food rationing ended, and like post-WWI, gardening lost popularity.

In the 1970s, exorbitant energy costs and high inflation caused the price for food and other necessities to soar. In this era, more people were living in cities than ever before. Many urbanites came from foreign countries and, like the immigrants before them, struggled financially. Besides financial reasons, immigrant populations missed growing foods popular in their homelands. City-dwellers searched for any garden space and reclaimed areas like vacant lots to start community gardens. Suburbanites had it just as tough and gardening once again became important for fulfilling the need for food. This time, the struggling economy was the enemy.

Our country is once again at war. This time the enemy is not another nation or the result of a struggling economy. The enemy cannot be seen nor are the weapons the same. However, once again, Americans can turn to the potential benefits of gardening as a way to help in the war against coronavirus.

For those who were raised in farm families, growing plants may be in your nature. For those not born with a “green thumb,” educational programs on the web can help hone your gardening knowledge. When surfing the internet for gardening information, you should choose land-grant university and Cooperative Extension websites that have peer-reviewed, non-biased and science-based information. Private company websites and social garden group blogs may provide anecdotal information that is not “tried and true”, or may not apply to our growing region or soil types.

Rutgers University is New Jersey’s land-grant university, with Rutgers Cooperative Extension (RCE) delivering public outreach and education programs. Recently, an online educational program called Rutgers Community Gardening Series was developed and launched. The series is designed to benefit school, community and home gardeners by teaching new gardeners to successfully grow vegetables.

More RCE resources are available for everyone who wants to learn about gardening in the backyard or in community gardens. No matter where you choose to garden, selecting the correct location for a garden is key. The best location possible will encourage plants to grow properly and encourage the gardener to spend more time tending to plants.

This article was written by Michelle Infante-Casella, agricultural agent, Rutgers Cooperative Extension of Gloucester County.

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Urban Farming

6 Reasons to Become a Backyard Farmer

When Lisa and I were just married and struggling to keep fresh food on our table, a saint of a neighbor came to our rescue. Harry lived across the street, and his entire backyard was filled with
produce-growing plants. His passion was vegetables, and he purposely grew extra to share with family, neighbors, and the local food bank. Fresh tomatoes, peppers, squash, and other edibles from his garden were delivered fresh to our door. We gratefully consumed every piece of deliciously nutritious food he gave us! He was a lifesaver.

A lawn is beautiful, and Fifi enjoys going wee-wee on it, but grass is a wasteful entity. Better to mimic
Harry and grow less grass and more edible-producing plants. It’s sure to use a fraction of the water without the weekly chore of mowing. Add a few flowers to the garden, and you have the plants that benefit pollinating butterflies, bees, and hummingbirds all at the same time.

6 Reasons to Become a Backyard Farmer

#1 Lawns Waste Resources – In the U.S alone, there are approximately 40 million acres of unsustainable turf-grass lawns. These lawns use valuable resources of water, fertilizers, energy, fossil fuels, and our time. Gasoline in the millions of gallons is wasted weekly mowing lawns. This usage is almost obscene as it contributes to the U.S and Canada doing everything possible to extract highly polluting resources out of tar sands, deep waters, and fracked earth. Gardeners are wasting time and energy maintaining lawns that do nothing more beneficial than looking good.

#2 Community Building – Before the 1940s, supermarkets hardly existed. People grew much of their
produce, and got their meat, dairy, and other food items from local ranchers. Today most of us jump into our cars and drive to our nearest warehouses or supermarkets for our edibles. Many Western countries have squandered resources around an automobile-dependent culture, which has led to the supermarket-dependent culture. Being involved in growing our own backyard food helps build community. As people grow excess produce, they tend to share it with neighbors and friends, hence strengthening local networks and community resilience.

#3 Backyard Gardening Improves Health – Studies show that people who grow their food eat more healthily and share with other members of their families and communities. As a backyard gardener, you reduce reliance on industrially produced and chemically enhanced foods. Plus, you introduce others to the higher quality of homegrown produce. There’s no question that Backyard Tomatoes just taste better!

#4 Food Security – A packet of seeds costs only a few dollars yet generates hundreds of plants. With the price of fruit and vegetables increasing and inflation eating away at our spending power, it makes sense to grow as much of our food as possible. As Harry used to say, “Growing your food is like printing your own money.” He was right then, and he’s still right today! The more fresh produce one grows lessens dependence on long supply chains and highly industrialized food systems.

#5 Increasing Local Food Production and Efficiency – Some of the benefits of backyard gardening
are: reduced numbers of miles food travels, personal food security, improved soil quality, less waste on packaging and storage costs, support of small ranchers and independent garden centers, increased local employment, increased flow of local capital, higher quality produce, reduced dependence on the global supply chain, and better environmental outcomes in regards to pollution and use of fuels. The benefits of being out-of-doors and growing our own food appear to be endless.

#6 Know Where Your Food Comes From – Becoming a backyard gardener or purchasing from a local rancher or farmer reduces the distance food travels to reach our tables. Produce grown locally is fresher than that obtained from grocers. Many supermarkets use extensive cold storage and distribution centers to hold and process fruits and vegetables. Goods are in transit for days, even weeks, reducing their nutritive values. Instead of using storage and processing facilities, local farmers pick and rapidly distribute their ultra-fresh produce.

Garden Helper – If you need help growing more vegetables and herbs this spring, the experts at
Watters are here to help. Our center has the largest selection of locally grown, pesticide-free, organic plants in Northern Arizona, and the experts to show you how to grow them. Start with my local
Vegetable Calendar so you know exactly when to plant each crop.

Until next week, I’ll be here at Watters Garden Center helping local gardeners grow more food.

Ken Lain can be found throughout the week at Watters Garden Center, 1815 W. Iron Springs Rd in Prescott, or contacted through his web site at WattersGardenCenter.com or FB.com/WattersGardenCenter.

Categories
Urban Farming

11 Reasons Why It Is Important For You

The importance of gardening in our life goes beyond getting flavorful food and having a ready supply of fresh produce. Did you know that tasks like digging can help you burn up to 200 calories within 30 minutes?

Gardening is also an excellent stress buster, so much so that it’s been found to be more effective at combating stress than other leisure activities. Personally, I have found gardening to be very therapeutic. After spending hours glued to my computer screen, nothing gives me more relief than tending my garden as I enjoy the fragrance of lavender and sage.

It is these advantages of gardening that I wish to share with you on this post. Read on to learn how you can benefit from starting your own garden.

Contents

Eat Healthier

An easy way to boost your health is to eat more fresh fruit and vegetables.

According to the Dietary Guidelines from the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), the recommended intake is 2 to 3 cups of vegetables and 2 cups of fruit every day. This way, you are more likely to get the necessary nutrients. But the sad fact is that only 1 out of 10 Americans eat enough fruit or vegetables.

Gardening makes it easy to adopt healthy eating habits because it gives you a constant supply of nutrient-filled fruits and vegetables. Thus, you can meet your nutritional requirements, as well as eliminate the risk of eating vegetables that contain toxic chemicals from pesticides.

zuccinis #gardenTools #garden #gardening #gardenTips #gardencare #backyardGarden  #vegetables #zuccini #zucchini

Keep Fit

It’s easy to belittle gardening as a physical activity – until you spend hours trimming hedges, deadheading, or pruning. The amount of effort it takes to do such gardening tasks is enough to work up a sweat.   Reader favorites from A Nest With A YardPauseUnmuteLoaded: 24.95%Remaining Time -0:46

In fact, a recent study by the CDC shows that you can burn up to 330 calories with an hour of light gardening. This is a higher calorie count than you’d lose if you were lifting weights for the same duration.https://imasdk.googleapis.com/js/core/bridge3.453.0_en.html#goog_264675851

The following chart shows how many calories you’re likely to burn with 30 minutes of different gardening activities. This data is based on a study carried out by Harvard Medical School:

Gardening taskCalories burned in 30-minute activity
125-pound person155-pound person185-pound person
Planting bulbs and small plants120149178
Raking a lawn120149178
Weeding139172205
Digging150186222
Mowing a lawn165205244
Bagging leaves or grass clippings120149178

Help The Environment

The environment plays an integral part in our everyday life. The state of the environment is very much a hot topic these days and we all need to do our part to try to save it. One way to conserve the environment is through gardening as mentioned here. Here are some of its environmental benefits:

Reduces Synthetic Fertilizer Usage

When you grow your own fruit and vegetables, you have control over the amount and type of fertilizer you use in your garden.

What this means is that you can avoid the risks associated with using excess amounts of synthetic fertilizers. A good example of a potentially harmful fertilizer is the nitrogen-based type. Overusing this fertilizer results in increased emissions of nitrous oxide – a compound that has roughly 300 times the global warming potential of carbon dioxide.

Uses More Eco-Friendly Yard Tools

When examining the environmental effects of commercially produced fruit and vegetables, most people only focus on the food itself. We can easily forget that the equipment used in large-scale farming is just as important.

Gardening gives you the freedom of choosing environmentally-friendly equipment. This way, you can avoid gas-powered machinery that not only contributes to air pollution but also increases the use of a non-renewable energy source – petroleum.https://imasdk.googleapis.com/js/core/bridge3.453.0_en.html#goog_1669778854

The EPA reports that nearly 54 million Americans mow their lawns every weekend. This results in the use of 800 million gallons of gasoline every year.

An article by People Powered Machines seems to support this information. Based on their research, operating just one gas-powered mower for an hour emits as many pollutants as driving 11 new cars at 55 mph for the same amount of time.

Why you should not use a gas powered lawn mower  #lawn #backyardLandscaping #backyard
Image via peoplepoweredmachines.com

The good news is, you can prevent all of this by investing in battery-powered or electric gardening equipment. A good example of such an equipment is the Sun Joe TJ603E Electric Tiller and Cultivator .

Powered by a 12-amp motor, this machine delivers the same performance as its gas-powered counterparts. The only difference is that this tiller has zero emissions. The fact that it doesn’t use any gas or oil also means it doesn’t require a lot of maintenance.

Converts Your Garden Into A Carbon Sink

What is a carbon sink? Well, it simply means using your garden to store carbon while improving soil health in the process. As a result, a smaller portion of carbon is released into the atmosphere as CO2.

So how does this happen? Well, whenever plants decompose, a big fraction of the carbon they contain is transferred to the soil.

During decomposition, organisms in the soil break down organic matter from the dead plants. This process converts part of the carbon in the organic matter to  CO2, which is then released into soil pore spaces. Thus, a higher portion of  CO2 remains in the soil, compared to the portion being released into the atmosphere.

To make the most of this strategy, experts recommend that you plow, till, and dig less frequently. The reason for this is that these tasks tend to expose soil microorganisms to high amounts of sunlight. This, in turn, speeds up the loss of the stored carbon into the atmosphere.

In cities where this problem is especially acute, rooftops gardens help a lot. Learn how to make one in this post.

Composts Food Scraps And Garden Trimmings

Another benefit of gardening is that you’re able to dispose of garden waste more efficiently. For instance, you can turn trimmings, grass clippings, and food scraps into compost.

This means that less waste ends up in the landfill, where it emits powerful greenhouse gases, like methane. Like nitrous oxide, methane is 84 times more toxic than CO2 when it comes to trapping heat in the atmosphere.

If you’re not sure of how to go about composting, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has shared some useful hacks to get you started. You can also invest in a compost machine like the FCMP IM4000 Outdoor Tumbling Composter .

The way the composter from the video below works is that you fill the barrel with organic waste – like grass clippings and food scraps – and then turn it five to six times every two or three days.https://imasdk.googleapis.com/js/core/bridge3.453.0_en.html#goog_1669778857

https://youtube.com/watch?v=jR5O_e4LqyU%3Ffeature%3Doembed

The equipment uses a tumbling mechanism to aerate the waste, breaking it down faster so you can use it in your garden.

Gardening Is Good For The Soul

Another reason why gardening is important is that it takes us away from the hustle and bustle of life. It’s a nice way to take a break and engage in creating something new.

Some of the virtues you can learn from gardening are:

Practice Acceptance

A lot of the suffering we experience stems from trying to control things that we simply can’t. If we can instead accept that some things are out of our control, we’ll have more peace of mind. Gardening can help us practice this.

While you can put your best efforts into gardening, you can’t fully control the outcome. The weather can change drastically, causing your crops to wilt or ripen too quickly. Similarly, pests and diseases can wreak havoc on your plants.

While I don’t wish any of these scenarios on you, gardening teaches us a vital lesson through these experiences. That is the fact that we should let go of those things that we cannot control.

Gardening is good for your soul and body #vegetablegarden #garden #gardening #backyardGarden #vegetables #lettuce
https://imasdk.googleapis.com/js/core/bridge3.453.0_en.html#goog_1669778860

Develop A Growth Mindset

Gardening provides an avenue to learn continuously. If you plant something and it doesn’t pan out, don’t wallow in sadness. Use this as a learning opportunity, so you can avoid similar mistakes in the future.

I have had my fair share of gardening failures. One time I tried a new seeding method and ended up with a crowded garden bed. This caused most of the crops to dry up too quickly and experience nutrient deficiencies.

Initially, I was really stressed about it since I’d spent a lot of resources and time. But, at the end of the day, I learned how to space plants properly.

Beat Chronic Stress

Have you been looking for the ultimate stress-buster? Gardening is your best bet. A study conducted in the Netherlands suggests that gardening is better at relieving stress than other activities.

In the experiment, two groups were assigned different tasks after completing a tedious activity. The first group was asked to read indoors, while the other group took part in gardening.

The individuals who were asked to garden felt better than those who read. They also exhibited lower levels of cortisol – a stress hormone.

Gardening is good for your soul #garden #gardening #backyardGarden

Helps You Interact With Others

Few activities improve our well-being more than healthy relationships and gardening presents numerous opportunities to connect with others.

Gardening is also a great bonding activity for families. Kids love playing in the dirt and usually enjoy tasks like digging, planting seeds, and pulling out weeds.

And don’t let limited space prevent you from gardening with your kids! You can garden even if you have limited space in your home. Simply plant in containers or pots. You can then place them on your balcony or any other strategic place that has access to direct sunlight.

Gardening with kids #garden #gardening #backyardGarden #kids #kidsActivities

Save Money

If you’re still on the fence about starting a kitchen garden, perhaps this point can help: you’ll save a significant amount of money!

On the surface, it might seem like gardening costs more than buying store produce. But this couldn’t be further from the truth. As HowStuffWorks explains, a well-cared-for garden measuring 4 by 8 feet can help you save $600 in food expenses over just one summer season.https://imasdk.googleapis.com/js/core/bridge3.453.0_en.html#goog_1669778866

For instance, one $1.50 pack of tomato or pepper seeds will yield 6 to 100 times the amount of produce that you’d buy from a grocery store for the same amount of money.

And you can save tons of money by growing your own herbs. It’s easier than you think. You can start with mint; check our tutorial here.

Want more tips on how to save money when gardening? Check out this great video:

https://youtube.com/watch?v=VBqH04PS-HA%3Ffeature%3Doembedhttps%3A

Garden Design 101

Adding a garden to your landscape can not only add to your curb appeal but it can also be a fun and relaxing hobby.

If gardening is something you want to do, the first step is deciding the layout of your garden. This decision is based on the landscape of your yard and how you want to use it, and a good start to this is deciding where you want your focal points to be.

Next, you need to think about what types of plants you want to use.

This decision is based on the colors you want to accentuate, your geographical area, whether you have any preferences for the shape of your plants and flowers, and any size requirements you may have. It is also a good idea to plant trees and shrubs that will bring color to your garden at different times of the year.

Before you commit to a garden, it is also important to make sure you are fully aware of the care it will require.

Your garden should be in an area that receives sunlight and it is important to keep your plants watered. So before you begin planting, make sure you do your research so that your garden will give you the look that you want and flourish all year long.

For more information and tips, Garden Goods Direct has created an infographic highlighting garden design.

Check it out below.

Garden-Design-101-Everything-You-Need-to-Know

Conclusion

For centuries, health experts have urged consumers to grow their own garden and for good reasons.

Gardening gives you an infinite supply of nutrient-rich food. More importantly, it helps you conserve the environment by choosing eco-friendly raw materials and equipment.

This activity also helps you get much-needed exercise. Activities like removing weeds and planting can burn between 200 and 400 calories per half-hour.

Lastly, gardening is good for your soul. It reduces stress, teaches you to be accepting, and trains you to learn from your mistakes.

You even don’t need a big garden – you can have a small one on your patio or balcony.

I hope you enjoyed this article and that you better understand the importance of gardening in our life. How has gardening enriched your life? I’d love to hear your comments below. And don’t forget to share this article if you think it might be of benefit to anyone you know!

What is the importance of Gardening in Our life? It's good for our soul and body #garden #gardening #gardenTips #gardencare #backyardGarden #vegetablegarden

Categories
Urban Farming

The 6 Amazing Benefits of Gardening in Your Backyard

The value that you get from gardening is much more than the vegetables your plot produces. It can be therapeutic, healthy, educational, communal, environmentally friendly, and good exercise. The vegetables you harvest are just the tip of the iceberg, gardening offers us “sow” much more.

It’s true: Gardening is cheaper than therapy and you get tomatoes! Here are 6 amazing benefits of gardening in your backyard.

Outdoor Happens is reader-supported. When you buy through links on our site, we may earn an affiliate commission. Click to learn moreTable of ContentsShow

1. The Health Benefits of Gardening

benefits-of-gardening-for-kids

Gardening as Exercise

For those of you who have spent some time in the garden, it will come as no surprise that gardening can be a good source of exercise. Tasks like raking leaves, mowing lawns, and waging war on weeds tend to offer moderate exercise, while digging holes and shoveling compost can be far more rigorous.

In my own garden, I harvest rainwater in barrels around my house and then tote buckets of water across the yard to my garden. I like to start the season with a smaller bucket and work my way up to carrying a larger bucket near the end of the summer.

Because of my old-school watering system, it seems like every day is arm day, but gardening also includes a wide range of motions like bending, squatting, and reaching, making it good for flexibility too.

Gardeners with back problems or mobility issues may want to consider using taller raised beds. These eliminate kneeling, making gardening far more ergonomic.

After a long day of gardening, a restful night of sleep comes easily to most!

Absorb Some Vitamin D

Did you know that vitamin D is often called the “Sunshine Vitamin?” The more time you spend outdoors, the more vitamin D you absorb through your skin. Spending half an hour outside can be enough to give you all the vitamin D you need in a day.

Most gardeners have no shortage of tasks to do in the sunshine, and luckily for them, vitamin D has all sorts of health benefits including:

2. Benefits of Gardening for Kids

benefits-of-gardening-for-kids
My girls grew up in the garden. Is there anything better than bare feet in the dirt?

Gardening Encourages Picky Eaters to Try More Vegetables

If you have a picky eater at home, you’re probably familiar with this scene: You prepare a nutritious homemade meal, place it in front of your little one, and then you watch as they push it around their plate until it’s cold, and they don’t want it anymore. It sucks. It really does.

So how do we encourage kids to eat more of those dreaded veggies?

A study conducted by the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics suggests that if a child has helped to grow the food on their plate, they are more likely to try it. Perhaps it’s the anticipation of watching those early tomatoes ripen, or maybe just curiosity around trying the efforts of their labor, but it works!

benefits-of-gardening-for-picky-eaters
Kids get a real sense of pride when they grow their own veggies! Who cares that the carrots look funny…

Incorporate Gardening into Your Home School Plan

This year in particular, many parents are opting to homeschool their children. Gardening is a great learning opportunity for children of all ages. There is even some evidence that kids who garden perform better in their academic courses.

Here are just some of the ways you can incorporate gardening into your home school plan:

How to Grow Your Own Food

Knowing how to grow your own vegetables is a timeless skill. Homegrown vegetables can be more nutritious and more affordable than store-bought ones. Backyard produce is often left to ripen on the plant longer, resulting in better flavor. Here are some of the easiest vegetables to start with.

Where Food Comes From

Do you know where the food on your plate comes from? Some vegetables travel thousands of kilometers to land on your plate; others can be easily grown in your own backyard. It’s interesting to learn about where different foods grow and which ones you can try to grow yourself.

How Plants Grow

The journey from seed to fruit is a fascinating one. Plants store just enough energy in a seed to produce two leaves and a small root system. This is all they need to successfully begin the process of photosynthesis, where they transform energy from the sun into sugars that they can use to grow. Try growing a pumpkin from a seed you saved yourself – it’s incredibly rewarding!

Backyard Ecosystems

Healthy gardens don’t grow in isolation. They are connected to many life forms, and each plays a unique role in the garden ecosystem.

It is fascinating to learn how nature creates balance. Bees pollinate flowers. Spiders, ladybugs, and wasps protect plants from pests. Earthworms improve the soil. Maybe you’d even like to learn how to be a backyard beekeeper!

Woodworking

Many children get excited at the prospect of hands-on learning opportunities. Possible woodworking projects for your garden include raised beds, birdhouses, mason bee homes, and backyard benches.

Physical Literacy

Gardening gives children a chance to practice moving their bodies in big and small ways. Young children may enjoy practicing gross motor skills by watering, digging, and raking, while older children can test their fine motor skills through tasks like transplanting, seed sowing, and weeding.

Emotional Maturity

Taking care of a garden is rewarding, but it can also be a lot of work. Beds need to be weeded. Veggies need regular watering. These tasks can be good opportunities to teach kids about responsibility. If they want to grow great tomatoes, they need to commit to doing the work.

As gardeners, they will also need to be patient. It takes time to grow a vegetable garden.

Gardening Decreases Allergies in Children

gardening-decreases-allergies
Time to get your hands dirty!

A study conducted at Harvard Medical School discovered that exposing children to gardens and outdoor play while they are young may play a role in preventing allergies, asthma, and autoimmune diseases.

We are surrounded by all sorts of microbes and bacteria all of the time. Some are harmful, but most are not. When children are young, their bodies are deciding which microbes pose a danger and which do not.

If children are not exposed to a wide variety of microbes, they are more likely to have conditions like allergies because their body is responding too aggressively towards harmless microbes. So, let them get a little messy outdoors. It might help them later in life.

3. Benefits of Gardening for Mental Health

benefits-gardening-mental-health

The Antidepressant Properties of Soil Microbes

Whether you’ve realized it or not, we owe a great deal of our gardening joy to soil microbes. They are critical building blocks of healthy plants. Microbes not only help plants take up nutrients and defend themselves from disease; believe it or not, they can have a big impact on mental health too.

A study conducted by researchers from Bristol University and University College London in 2007 discovered that one very common soil microbe, mycobacterium vaccae, actually makes you happier. The microbe enters your body through your skin when you handle dirt or through your lungs when you inhale dirt particles in the air.

Once inside your body, this lovable microbe encourages the production of serotonin in your brain. Serotonin is often called the “happy” hormone because it lowers stress levels, increases happiness, and improved focus. Mycobacterium vaccae is kind of like nature’s Prozac. Neat, right?

The Joys of Harvesting Your Own Food

I work with children, and one thing that experience has taught me is: all children love scavenger hunts. It doesn’t matter if they’re three or thirteen; scavenger hunts are always a huge hit. (To be completely honest, I still love a good scavenger hunt, so perhaps age isn’t the factor here.)

The reason we love the feeling of finding that object we’ve been searching for goes back thousands of years to the hunter-gather days of early humans. Our brains have evolved to give us a little boost of dopamine every time we successfully find and harvest something of value: namely food.

That’s why every time you go out to your garden and collect veggies for your dinner, you’re also getting that little hit of dopamine; that feeling of success. There is nothing more natural than harvesting your own food, and your brain will reward you for it by giving you uplifting, mood-boosting chemicals.

benefits-of-growing-your-own-food
Ah, the reward!

On the topic of scavenger hunts, there is no better scavenger hunt in the world than foraging for wild mushrooms. To me, fall represents an entire season of romping around in the bush with my dog, avidly scanning the ground for those tell-tale indicators.

I’m a chanterelle girl, but the mushrooms you find depend on climate. As always, when you pick mushrooms, you take no chances. As they say, “There are old mushroom hunters, and there are bold mushroom hunters, but there are no old, bold mushroom hunters.”

So, get the right guidebooks, go with someone who knows the craft, and pay attention to your surroundings. When done safely, mushroom hunting is great fun!

4. Benefits of Growing a Vegetable Garden

benefits-of-growing-vegetable-gardens
Passionfruit, cucumbers, and tomatoes… Heaven on earth.

When the Coronavirus took hold of the world earlier this year, one of the first things people did was turn to gardening. Garden supply stores quickly ran out of transplants and seed packets, seed companies acquired month-long waitlists, and soil and compost sellers never had an idle moment in their Bobcats.

With looming anxiety on the horizon around food security, people turned to vegetable gardening as a way to prepare for an uncertain future. The self-sufficiency that comes with knowing how to grow your own food is incredibly empowering.

A garden takes very little capital to begin. Most seed packets cost just a couple of dollars. You have the option of building raised beds from whatever is available to you (reclaimed cedar fence boards are my favorite), or keeping it even simpler and turning over a section of your yard and planting directly in the ground.

Growing your own vegetables means that you have a free source of food close to home, and you can vouch for the way that food was grown — free from chemicals and harmful pesticides, if that’s your wish. Food grown in a backyard garden tends to have better flavor as well because it is left to ripen on the plant for longer.

Gardening is a rare hobby because it can become exponentially cheaper the longer you do it. I often save seed from my garden, which means that I do not need to purchase certain types of seed the following year.

Radish, lettuce, beans, peas, tomatoes, cucumbers, peppers and squash seeds are easy to collect. You will also want to make sure that you save seed from the best plants in your garden. This increases the odds of having strong, healthy plants next year.

5. Benefits of School and Community Gardens

benefits-of-school-community-gardens

Community Gardens Build Connection

Community gardens are a great place to meet neighbors and build connections. You may think that sharing a garden with strangers would be the worst. Others could take more than their fair share of the produce. Worst of all, there’s small talk with strangers.

Interestingly enough, the strangers you meet may be the best part of community gardening.

Psychologist Nicholas Epley of the University of Chicago performed an experiment with train passengers. He had noticed that when most people board a train, they sit down and do not talk to each other. Considering that humans are one of the most social animals on Earth, this is sort of bizarre.

So, Epley conducted an experiment where passengers were instructed to do either one of three things:

  • Group A: Make conversation with others
  • Group B: Act as they normally would on their commute
  • Group C: Avoid conversation with others

Consistently, participants in the first group indicated that they had had a better train ride. It didn’t matter if the people in group A were naturally chatty or shy; across the board, people enjoyed connecting, even if it was only for a few moments and even if it was with strangers.

Epley also discovered that the longer the conversation lasted, the more joy it brought the passengers.

Like the train in the experiment, community gardens provide opportunities to meet new people, share pearls of wisdom, enjoy moments of connection, and feel as though you are part of a larger community.

Detroit: How Community Gardens Can Transform a City

detroit-community-gardening-transformed-city

Detroit, Michigan is a city that has taken the community garden to the next level. In the 1950s, Detroit was a major center of industrial production, but as production has moved to other parts of the world, Detroit’s economy has changed.

Many businesses and citizens followed jobs out of Detroit, leaving the city in an unusual position where more than 25% of the city is vacant, and there is a remarkable shortage of grocery stores. The Michigan Department of Agriculture has used the term “food desert” to describe more than a dozen neighborhoods within the city that are exceptionally far from grocery stores.

As such, many Detroiters rely on convenience stores and fast-food restaurants as the main source of food. The result is that Detroit has one of the highest rates of obesity and diet-related illness in the nation.

So what is Detroit doing about its food crisis?

They’re gardening.

Because so much land is vacant, Detroit has plenty of space to create community gardens. With several key non-profits at the helm of this movement, more than 1,400 urban gardens have been created within the city.

The results are incredible. 2016 yielded more than 300,000 pounds of produce. These community gardens provide many low-income residents with access to nutritious, delicious food on a by-donation basis.

Detroit also uses its community garden spaces for community projects such as beekeeping clubs and water conservation initiatives.

Community gardens really are transforming the city of Detroit. Imagine what a community garden could do for people in your own neighborhood!

6. Benefits of Gardening for the Environment

benefits-of-gardening-for-environment

Your Garden Minimizes Your Carbon Footprint

Gardens are more than just a place to fill your plate and revitalize your body and mind; they can be a commitment to building a cleaner planet. Did you know that food production makes up 25% of global carbon emissions? That’s 13.7 billion metric tons of carbon each year!

About half of that comes from raising, feeding, and processing meat. Of the different types of livestock, cattle are particularly bad from an emissions standpoint because they consume so many resources and produce so much methane.

Foods like meat, cheese, and eggs tend to have the highest carbon footprints whereas fruits and vegetables tend to be some of the lowest.

When you grow a garden, you are:

  • Increasing the number of fruits and vegetables in your diet, which reduces the need to eat as much meat
  • Eliminating the need for the single-use plastics that would have packaged your produce
  • Reducing the number of miles your food travels to get to your home

On average, most meals travel around 1,500 miles before arriving on your plate. So, backyard gardening can make a big impact on your carbon footprint for this reason alone.

Backyard gardening is also an opportunity to commit to organic gardening techniques that avoid the use of chemicals that can negatively impact your environment and harm local wildlife.

Gardening Saves Bees

gardening-saves-bees

Bees pollinate about 80% of cultivated crops, and they are integral to life as we know it. Without bees, plants would not be able to produce vegetables and fruits. Animals and people would have less to eat, and the results would be catastrophic.

Yet, bees are also very susceptible to chemicals, particularly neonics.

Neonics are pesticides commonly used in the production of crops like canola, soy, and corn. In the European Union, these chemicals are banned, but they are still used in many places in the world.

Another challenge bees regularly face is insufficient nectar flow. They take nectar and pollen back to their hive where they transform it into honey. That honey serves as their main food source throughout the winter.

As a gardener, you have a unique opportunity to make choices that greatly benefits the lives of bees within your neighborhood.

Here are four things you can try at home to support bees in your community:

Go Organic

The bees will thank you for not using pesticides in your garden. While it may be tempting to use chemicals to manage pest problems, you have to remember that the chemicals you introduce into your garden can affect all kinds of beneficial insects too.

Maximize Your Nectar Flow

With a bit of careful planning and by planting a wide variety of plants, vegetables, and fruits, you can create a garden where something is always in bloom. This isn’t just beautiful. It also means that bees visiting your garden will always have something to eat.

Replacing a portion of your lawn with wildflower mix is a fun, whimsical way of supporting bees. Wildflowers tend to be drought-tolerant, no-fuss plants. They even self-sow, so you can enjoy them for many years in a row. Flowering plants also attract butterflies to your garden, with their own benefits.

Some companies sell special “pollinator mixes” that are designed to bloom all summer. I have one sown around the border of my garden. It’s a real treat to watch this mix grow because it constantly changes as new blooms appear to fill in the gaps where others have just expired.

Make Bee Watering Stations

Bees are hard workers. On a typical day, they make five to fifteen trips from their hive, and each trip is around a kilometer each direction. For a bee, that’s quite a distance!

Just as we do, they need places to rest and have a drink of water. Making a bee watering station is a simple and beautiful way to support bees on their workday.

Bee watering stations need two key features: a landing pad and shallow water. I like to use large clam shells with pebbles placed inside them. I put them around the bottom of my plants where they will be filled when I water my plants each morning.

You can also use a teacup with stones in it or a design of your own invention.

Designate Space for Native Bees

Everyone has heard of the honeybee, but the honey bee is just one of the thousands of bee species. Many bee species are actually solitary ground-nesting bees that prefer to live alone in small holes in the sand.

For years, there was an area of my yard that I referred to as “The Desert.” It is bone dry, devoid of vegetation, and I would challenge you to find a difference between my desert and the Sahara.

Winnie-desert-benefits-gardening
Winnie loves “The Desert”

Interesting enough, my desert is the busiest area in my yard, in terms of insect activity. I often feel the need to hire an air traffic controller because it is almost impossible to walk through this section of the yard without dozens of black and yellow striped bugs pinging off your ankles. Although it’s a bit frightening, I have never been stung.

After attending a local beekeeping meeting, I learned that these were actually a form of native bee. In fact, many of the people at the meeting were hanging Mason bee houses in their yard to attract these little guys.

When you are laying out your garden, consider leaving sandy areas alone. They may be doing far more good than you realized. Even if these bees are not a variety that pollinates vegetables, they could be responsible for the pollination of native plants in your area.

So, now that you know gardening improves mental and physical health, provides tons of learning opportunities for kids, supports local wildlife, builds your sense of community, and reduces your carbon footprint, you’ve probably started to wonder how to start a garden of your own.

Begin with baby steps. Put some pots on your window sill and start with some herbs. Plant a simple garden with lettuce, radish, and beans. Scatter some wildflower seeds in your yard. Check out articles like this one about How to Start a Survival Garden and Vital Things to Know Before Starting a Garden.

Anyone can garden. It just takes a little patience. The rewards you reap from gardening are well worth the effort you put in.