Home Grown Food: How to benefit yourself and your community

Home Grown Food: How to benefit yourself and your community

Growing fruits and vegetables is a rewarding way to make healthy improvements to your life, the environment and your community.

When you grow your food using organic practices, and forego chemical fertilizers and pesticides, you’ll contribute to healthier soil and water in your neighbourhood.   You’ll also be limiting the amount of vehicular emissions that are created when foods are shipped in from far-away places, sometimes from as far away as the other side of the world.

There are a variety of personal health benefits to growing your own food. Your body gets the most nutrition and the most vitamins by eating foods straight from the garden. Gardening is a great form of exercise and the intensity can be modified to suit a wide range of abilities. Bending, lifting, walking and stretching can be regular parts of a gardening session and breathing in the fresh air is a wonderful way to decompress and feel more connected to the natural world.

CordeliaGardens
A happy little girl with a shovel. Getting ready to plant some fruits and veggies!   Photo by: S. Sobek-Swant

There are also a host of financial benefits from growing your own food. As the harvest season arrives, you could be spending less money at the grocery store’s produce department and filling your pantry and refrigerator with your own crops.  A packet of seeds can cost just a few dollars and if you save the seeds from heirloom varieties, you won’t have to buy seeds at all the following year.  When you grow more than your family and friends can immediately eat, consider preserving the harvest to enjoy throughout the winter.  This can be done by canning, dehydrating, freezing and fermenting.  You may also experience less food wastage in the kitchen because when you spend your own time and energy growing food and feel a sense of pride with what you’ve harvested, you will more likely eat it rather than see it shrivel in the fridge. Not to mention, veggies taste so much better when you’ve grown them yourself. —that alone will have you eating more of them!

A healthy harvest. Photo by T. WoodnoteSaberwing
Fresh produce from the garden! Photo by: T. Jarvis

Gardening also gives you the option of calming solitude or the bustle of gregarious activity.  You can garden alone, with your friends, neighbours and family, or you could become a volunteer at a local community garden – like at Springbank Community Gardens at rare Charitable Research Reserve.  With over 15,000 square feet dedicated to growing produce for local food banks, there is plenty of opportunity to meet other gardeners, learn new skills and help your local community.  For more information about the gardens at rare, or to become a garden volunteer, please contact rare’s Garden Coordinator, Taryn Jarvis at taryn.jarvis@raresites.org or 519-650-9336 x115.

By Taryn Jarvis, rare’s Property, Facility & Garden Coordinator

Photo by: T. Jarvis,

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