Benefits of Growing Your Own Vegetables, Fruits and Medicinal Herbs
Have you ever considered starting a vegetable or medicinal herb garden?
Fulfilling, joyful, rewarding, peaceful, educational, healing, empowering….all words I would use to describe what it is like to grow your own food and medicinal herbs. Whether you grow one tomato plant in a pot or acres of vegetables and herbs, there is great benefit.
Here are the top 6 benefits to growing your own vegetables, fruits and herbs:
1) Connection with nature
We as a society spend so much time inside, on our phones, at work, on the computer, and watching television. Being outside and reconnecting with the natural world around you has so many health benefits. Fresh air and vitamin D are important for the immune system and our overall wellness. But there are other benefits to being outside and connecting to nature. Interacting with nature can incite feelings of joy, peace, awe, focus, grounding, and restfulness. Plus, when we interact with the natural world around us, we often gain more respect for how we impact the environment.
2) Eliminate harmful chemicals
Eliminating toxins in our homes and our food is an important part of overall health and the health of the environment. Synthetic pesticides and herbicides are often used in the production of conventional produce and herbs. By growing your own food and herbs, you are able to have more control over what toxins, if any, are introduced to your garden. By reducing our toxic load, we are better able to support our bodies for healing and overall wellness. But also, by growing your own food without the use of harmful chemicals, you are helping the soil, microorganisms, insects, wildlife, and other key players in our environmental health.
3) More Nutrients/Peak Freshness/Better Taste
Food and herbs grown in your own garden can often be picked and eaten at peak freshness. Produce and herbs that are freshly picked are often higher in nutrients and better flavor than produce and herbs from the grocery. When it comes to medicinal herbs, picking and using or drying at peak freshness is very important for maintaining the active plant constituents and medicinal value. Even if you are unable to grow a large garden, you will definitely notice the difference between the oregano you grow in a pot in your window and the oregano you purchase at the store. Most people often find that they will even eat more vegetables, herbs, and fruit when they grow it themselves. These whole foods are an important part of a balanced diet and overall wellness. If you are looking for ways to eat more of these vital foods, growing your own may be the key!
Gardening is a wonderful exercise, burning close to 300 calories an hour at a moderate intensity level. You may find you are doing a lot of bending, lifting, carrying, shoveling, and getting in a lot of steps when you garden! Gardening can really fit in to whatever level of exercise you need. It is possible to make gardening accessible to people of all activity levels and limitations. You may find that gardening in raised beds or pots is better suited to your abilities. Or, window boxes, indoor grow lights, or small light-weight pots may fit your needs. Whatever works for you, it is important to make your garden adaptable so you can get the exercise that best fits your needs while growing your own food.
5) Food and Health Security
During global events, natural disasters, and conflict, there is often a lot of concern about access to food when the grocery shelves go bare. It is hard to grow everything you need, but you can take little steps towards food security by growing what you can. Not having to rely solely on the grocery store for your food is freeing. If you are able to grow your own food, and you have a lot of space, you can also work with your local community to help provide food security for your neighbors who are unable to grow their own food. Medicinal herbs also play a huge role in self-sufficiency by allowing you to be able to make your own herbal remedies for supporting your body during illness. Medicinal herbs can helps with a host of issues and many areas of the world rely heavily on plants and herbal remedies for a large portion of their health care needs. Herbs are easy to grow, don’t require a lot of space, compliment many of the vegetables we grow in our gardens, and provide self-sufficiency; so be sure to add them to your garden!
6) Educational Opportunities
If you have children, gardening is a wonderful opportunity to teach them about life cycles, cause and effect, nutrition, insects, wildlife, environmental impact, and the list goes on! There are so many experiments, activities and lessons that can be taught using a pack of seeds, a container of soil, sunlight and water. But, you don’t have to be a kid to learn lessons in the garden. Growing produce and medicinal herbs is a experiential learning experience for everyone. Learning how to use the produce and medicinal herbs you grow allows for creativity and experimentation. Each year may present new challenges and each year you will learn something new to carry in to the next year. I bet you will even learn something new about yourself while tending to your garden!
Can you think of any other benefits to growing your own produce and medicinal herbs? How can a vegetable or medicinal herb garden benefit you and your family? What are some ways you can incorporate growing your own food in to your current lifestyle? Maybe this looks like a few pots with some herbs and vegetables in your window or on your porch. Maybe it’s turning that sunny spot in your yard in to a food producing plot. Maybe it’s talking with your neighbors to start a community garden in the empty lot. Whatever it looks like, I encourage you to explore…but most of all enjoy!
Melissa and Watson
Written by Melissa English
Wild Aster Farm