Until a few years ago, I had never gardened and, as an adult, had never eaten food fresh from a garden. My experience gardening was limited to when I was about six years old and was “helping” my great grandfather in his garden until he told me to go “help” my great grandmother in the house!
Once I started vegetable gardening, I was hooked. Gardening changed me as a person and helped me gain a greater respect for Nature, but it also showed me just how delicious fruits and vegetables straight from your own garden could taste.
I was hooked at my first bite of a sweet pea from our very first garden.
This year, I’ve been doing a series of posts on gardening, and I wanted to post this week about the overall value of growing your own food through gardening. It’s a lot of work and is a process for sure, but it’s a fulfilling one.
Exercise and Sun
The exercise and sunshine you get from gardening is great for your health. My favorite thing about gardening is that I get all the exercise, but it doesn’t feel like exercise. It’s hard work and just so busy. Plus, you get the sunshine, and goodness knows we could all use some sunshine right now! It usually takes just a month or two of gardening for me to lose my winter pounds. Between the exercise and the vitamin D, gardening is great for your health.
Value of Process
Even if you fail, the person you become through gardening is a better person. I was recently reading about psychologists who say that it’s through our process that we actually succeed, even if we fail–that we are happier people when we focus on what we learn from the process of doing, even if we don’t seem successful by society’s standards.
I can see this in my gardening. I’ve fallen in love with the process. I have failed many times. I’ve yet to grow broccoli successfully from seed, and, last year, when something ate all of my carrots, I was sad not to have the food. But I’m still aware that I have benefited from the process and learned something from it. This makes me a happier person and is one of the reasons I fell in love with vegetable gardening.
Deeper Appreciation of Nature and Science
If you’ve never seen a carrot grow from seed so tiny you can barely see the darn thing, then you just need to. It’s like magic! The process of growing food from seeds was so powerful for me that I began to research plants and learned so much about them. Did you know that many of plants we eat have more genes than humans? There certain types of pea plants that have evolved to emit a chemical to attract predators of their own predators!
And that’s just the tip of the iceberg. Recently, scientists have learned that corn plants communicate through their roots, and though, the last I read, they were not sure how they communicate (it’s maybe clicks), they do know there’s more cooperation between plants and even between species of plants than we ever imagined.
Growing Your Own Food
I think the food benefit is maybe the reason I don’t grow flower gardens yet. I’m in love with the process of gardening, but I have this practical urge to grow my own food as well. Vegetable gardening is the most perfect combination of process and product for me. We feed our family and make a large dent in our grocery bill through our organic vegetable gardening. Plus, we’re giving our bodies and our children’s bodies better nutrition.
And with the state of affairs in our food industry and the direction we’re going with deregulation of everything to the point that we have to question the safety of our food, this seems like a really good thing to me. There’s a part of me that loves that I get to reject the food industry every time I eat something we grow ourselves. Some argue that this won’t make difference in the grand scheme of things, but it sure makes a difference to me.
So make a plan if you can. Growing a vegetable garden is good for you in a variety of ways, and it’s not too late to get started. We still have snow on the ground, so get your seeds, plan your rows, and join me in this beautiful process.