There are many reasons the USDA encourages the use of home gardens and many reasons why 43 million American households (including the White House!) are now growing their own fruits and vegetables.
Help Your Health
It isn’t just about the food and land – your mind and body will reap benefits from the farmer lifestyle as well! Perhaps one of the most obvious advantages of growing your own vegetables is the freedom to know, choose and/or avoid the use of chemicals. You’ll dramatically decrease the chance of your produce becoming contaminated by eliminating their exposure to corporate farms, manufacturing plants and the planes, trains and automobiles necessary for transportation. By planting organically and avoiding the use of hazardous chemicals altogether, you protect yourself from the harmful effects of carcinogenic pesticides that include nerve damage, genetic mutation and birth defects. The safety of your food is in your hands when you cultivate your own produce – the tomato and spinach recalls from your local grocery story are no longer your concern!
Adopting the backyard farmer lifestyle can improve the health of you and your family. Although the amount of effort needed to maintain a garden is sometimes considered overwhelming, the benefits make this timely project a worthwhile health investment. The labor involved in gardening is a productive combination of endurance, strength and flexibility workouts. An hour in the garden typically burns up to 200 calories (while an exercise-driven farmer on a labor-heavy day could blast over 500!). By introducing the garden to your children as a fun activity (rather than a chore), they will stay active while also forming an inevitable understanding of and appreciation for the great outdoors.
Studies show that having fruits and vegetables nearby leads to a healthier overall lifestyle. By turning your backyard into a field of fresh edible greens and ripe fruits, you and your children are more likely to indulge in the healthy, low-calorie products of your labor. Children who help grow their family’s own produce are also proven to enjoy eating vegetables more. Adding more fruits and vegetables into your diet (are any of us really getting the recommended nine servings per day?) will help reduce the risk of stroke, cardiovascular disease and type 2 diabetes, and may protect against certain cancers while improving blood pressure, gastrointestinal health and vision. Your homegrown goods are also more effective vehicles of nutrition because the vitamin content of all plants is highest when they’re picked and eaten straight from the stem; store-bought produce poses no competition for the phytochemicals, anti-oxidants, vitamin C, vitamin A and folate levels coming from your backyard.
Planting at home is the perfect way to simultaneously save money and help the environment. The amount of money needed for the supplies to get started may initially deter you, but most people eventually find the investment well worth it. Once the project is fully underway, you’ll save money in the long run by skipping the produce section during your supermarket run and making fewer trips to the store. Because you’ll no longer need to buy produce in bulk, the days of throwing out mushy cucumbers and moldy blueberries are in the past! And, if you dry, can or otherwise preserve your homemade goods, the summer and fall harvest will provide nutrition all year round.
The advantages of farming at home are numerous. Not only will you benefit your budget as well as your overall health, but you’ll also enjoy the bragging rights and sense of pride in accomplishing the cultivation of edibles far fresher and tastier than ones ever stored in the fridge. A backyard garden provides the convenience of walking outside and quickly grabbing ingredients, an outlet for creativity and strategic thinking, as well as an opportunity for volunteerism through donating surplus crops to those in need. If you’re looking for a new reason to get active outdoors (while either spending time with the kids or finding therapy in the alone time) a backyard garden is the perfect excuse to catch some sun and breathe fresh air during these summer months!