5 Great Reasons To Grow Your Own Food

, written by Jeremy Dore gb flag

Jeremy's vegetable garden

Why go to the trouble of growing your own food when it’s so easily available from supermarkets? It may seem a strange question to ask on a website dedicated to gardening but sometimes it’s useful to take a step back and ask why we invest so much time and energy. The answer to that question will vary from gardener to gardener but understanding the reasons can help us focus on the most enjoyable aspects and motivate us when the weeds seem overwhelming. That’s why we asked our Facebook community the same question and the responses were fascinating. Read on for a great dose of inspiration!

Providing for a Family / on a Low Income

In the wake of the credit crunch it’s only natural that many people now grow their own food to help make ends meet or to supplement what they can afford. Gardening doesn’t just save on grocery bills, it’s a low-cost, healthy, family activity too. Small wonder then that waiting lists for allotments (community garden plots) in the UK are often more than 10 years now and container gardening is more popular than ever. Since most people feel the need to spend time keeping a relatively tidy garden, why not make it productive?

"So we don't starve to death. :-) also so we can afford to pay the mortgage."
"Because it’s great fun for me and the kids. We all like the food too."

Boy and potato plants

Gardening is Good for the Soul

So many people told us gardening was their therapy. I’m inclined to agree as it ticks so many boxes for our mental health – fresh air and exercise, away from the daily stresses of work, expressing our creativity, a sense of accomplishment... the list is endless.

"To feed my family and my soul. Nothing like a few hours of dirt therapy to make life a little sweeter!!"
"I do this to play in dirt... need a good excuse when you become an older lady!"
"When I'm out there life makes sense... It's a living metaphor for so much. Perspective is good, and so are fresh tomatoes."
"Having a work of art to look at in my yard"
"It keeps me from randomly throttling people.=)"

Health and Sustainability

Organic food is increasingly popular but most shops treat it as a luxury item to be sold at a premium price. Being able to grow food without pesticides and eat it straight from the garden is superior in every way to produce that is pumped full of additives, packed to prevent it deteriorating, transported and then sold as ‘fresh’. There’s also the understanding that we’re contributing to the sustainability of our planet and reconnecting with the skills that helped past generations cope with climatic or economic disasters.

"I like being able to provide food for my family that is better tasting, more nutritious, and I can control what is used (or isn't) on the plant & soil."
"I garden to reclaim the skills of self-sufficiency my grandmother and her generation took as routine."
"Reducing the grocery bills, reducing chemical intake, reducing negative impact on the Earth, reducing reliance on ‘others’ to survive"

Homegrown tomatoes

Fresh Fruit and Vegetables Taste Better

I challenge anyone who has tasted a fresh tomato from the vine or sweet corn straight from the plant to tell me that taste isn’t a factor in growing your own. For some it will be a primary motivation – gourmet chefs around the world now have their own gardens and that can be available at home too, picking out wonderful tasty heirloom varieties to grow each year. For others it’s more of a side-benefit but enjoyable none the less. I enjoy cooking so much more since growing my own, especially throwing together Italian vegetables and herbs – with such great-tasting fresh ingredients it’s hard to make mistakes!

"It tastes better. Shops’ and supermarkets’ veg don’t match up to home grown. What can beat the taste of home grown new potatoes?!"

Ethical Reasons for Growing Your Own Food

I’d like to add another angle on this subject – one which isn’t always at the front of our minds but I think many of us feel subconsciously. Increasingly there’s a suspicion of the way our food chains have become dominated by companies whose primary concern is shareholder’s profit. From grocery stores to international agri-businesses the goals of market domination and convenience foods seem to obliterate the connection with our planet, its people and animals.

By way of example, I was shocked but not that surprised by this week’s report from the Guardian newspaper about farm workers’ conditions in Southern Spain. Just a few miles from the tourist resorts of the Costa del Sol are vast greenhouses that supply Europe’s grocery stores. Charities are labelling the shanty-town existence of the migrant labor force as practically ‘state endorsed slavery’ with many lacking running water and adequate shelter. Conditions are so bad that the Red Cross is now handing out food rations. What a shocking indictment of our modern food supply system and one that I’m sure is not restricted to Spanish farms.

Simply growing our own vegetables doesn’t solve this injustice but it does help reconnect us with our food sources. It makes me more conscious of waste, more careful to look at labels in the grocery store and gives my children an understanding of the value of natural organic food. Few of us have the time to grow on a scale that would make us self-sufficient but it’s still worthwhile to take a step in the right direction.

Like so many who responded to this question, I don’t think I could imagine not growing at least some of my own food now – it feels like part of who I am. That’s why, just like our Facebook community, you’ll rarely find a gardener who’s not passionate about the food they grow and longing to tell you about the benefits!

There are many other great reasons to grow your own food and we’d love to hear your views on this subject – please add them as comments below...

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Comments

 
"Growing your own food brings friends and communities closer together. There's nothing in the world better than something made from the sweat of your brow and none more so than when you're sharing your own produce. Often times people are so grateful to receive 'real', tasty and wholesome fresh food, they reciprocate by offering you return-favours and so the hard work gets shared around and friendships gets reinforced - a good deal all round!"
Kevin on Saturday 12 February 2011
"I fully accept the points made about growing your own but I have an issue with the cost of seeds and vegetable plants offered at garden centres. What profits are being made by business riding on the back of ordinary people trying to do something different. I can remember my father with a substantial allotment growing just about every vegetable you can think of. I do not believe he could do it today, all things being equal, with the same income. Comments welcome. "
Brian Hedges on Tuesday 22 February 2011
"Brian - there are "real seeds" small businesses that sell seeds quite cheaply and are not affected by potentially objectional practices of the big seed boys. In fact, one of these small companies suggests that £20-£30 of seeds will be far too much and they show you how to save and harvest seeds for the following years crops. How's that for integrity and value? You could also start/join a seed circle to share unwanted and excess seeds with others. A great way to collaborate!"
Kevin on Wednesday 23 February 2011
"I have to say that I do sometimes wonder if I'm a bit out of control (usually around April when everything's getting ready to plant out but the weather's still unreliable) and giving myself an unreasonable amount of work when I could just nip to the shops. Then once I start cropping I'm cured and it's all worth while. Or when I'm sat in the sun looking out at beautiful things everything feels good."
Julia on Wednesday 23 February 2011
"Julia - hopefully with a well-earned glass of wine!"
Kevin on Wednesday 23 February 2011
"My first year of 'real' veg growing. (I used to grow in tubs until my new home gave me a real garden) I love it... Already have 5 raised beds and beetroot growing.. shared tomato plants I over-eagerly sowed with my new neighbours ans made new friends, my dad comes around and we spend ages talking garden talk, mum can't wait to make fresh rhubarb pies, my daughter cant wait to see how tall the peas will be compared to the sweetcorn, the husband cant wait for 'real' tomatoes and I can't wait to share all the home grown with my family and friends with pride....and those very good reasons for growing veg are only in the first 3 months of me starting.. do you need any other reasons - they are limitless.."
Cheryl P on Friday 18 March 2011
"Brian: I can appreciate your concerns regarding seed and gardening supply costs. I have seen some ridiculous priced seeds, especially those labeled as organic or marketed with celebrity names. However if you look for seed packaged by widely known seed companies such as Ferry Morse or Burpee, here in North Carolina, they seem reasonably priced. For the cost of 2-3 tomatoes at the super market you can buy a packet of seed and grow plenty of your own. Start small with only 1 or 2 small beds then add one bed each year. This will spread the set-up cost(s) out over several seasons. In my case I have spent $150 to $200 over the past 6 years. This past season which included poor gardening weather I was still able to harvest $1,000 +/- of produce. So don't let what may seem to be excessive costs discourage you from gardening. "
JohnFLob on Friday 24 February 2012
"I had to grow my own garden for one of my school projects and at 1st I thought it would be a drag but , I ended up really liking it. I felt really good I felt a sense of accomplishment because I did something on my own that I can use later and I`m in 8th grade too!"
Katelyn Losey on Wednesday 9 May 2012
"I've had my garden since I was only twelve years of age! I'm now 19, and it's been going great, I love gardening. The food freshly grown is so much tastier than "toxic" food. I call it toxic because food in stores are injected with chemicals. If you have the time, and space to grow a garden, please do it! Honestly, it is time consuming, but it's worth it, you won't regret it."
Brandon on Thursday 6 March 2014
"Gardening your own food let's you save your money and you know that it is fresh."
Natalie on Tuesday 6 May 2014
"I have been so blessed to be able to teach my son, daughter, son-in-law and daughter-in-law gardening and canning. I want them to be able to feed themselves and their families if it all falls apart for our world. They also hunt and fish. They can repair their homes and know a little about sewing or other needlecraft. I'm not a "prepper" but there is nothing wrong with being a little prepared for "just in case"."
Becca on Thursday 11 August 2016
"THIS HELPED ME OUT "
smoke weed on Monday 6 March 2017

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