Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Why grow our own food?

We at Friends of Northeast Florida Community Gardens have recently made the acquaintance of Helene Guest, a fabulous gardener working with the students, teachers and parents of Macclenny Elementary School in Baker County.  You can read a little about that school's garden here.

Image: ADAVB
The conversation was fast, furious and very exciting!  I related a question posed to me recently by an insurance agent as I was on the hunt for affordable insurance for community gardens: "Why would anyone want to grow their own food?" 

Well, that question completely floored me. I felt like I was trying to explain to someone from another dimension what ours was like.

Helene listened and then made the time in her busy schedule to write an article for us answering that question. What a wonderful lady! Thank you, Helene, for all that you are doing for our children and for our community.

Here is Helene Guest's answer to the question "Why grow our own food?"

Why grow our own food?

This is a question that has been asked many times over when gardens are planned for our communities.  It is a reasonable question considering the busy lives we as Americans lead today.  We can look back in our history and site national success during wartime periods such as the Victory Gardens planted during World War II.  An estimated 20 million gardens were planted expanding urban gardening exponentially.  Food scarcity resulted in the government encouraging people to grow their own food to allow the manufactured food to be sent to our troops overseas.  There are several reasons to promote the same program today.

Image: Marc
First of all growing a portion of a household’s food allows a percentage of Food Security.  No matter what is happening in the world around you, a bounty of high quality food can be within footsteps of your kitchen.  Each family can plan a garden with the goal of replacing all or a portion of their fresh food.

Food Quality is a measure of freshness.  The amount of time between harvest and use can greatly affect the nutritional value of food.  Vitamins and minerals can be sensitive to time.  Picking and eating our harvest at their peak will greatly increase how they nourish our bodies.  A well nourished body can resist disease, supply needed energy and provide for a better quality of life overall.

Gardening is a proven Stress Reliever!  Getting out in the fresh air, digging in the dirt, weeding, planting, watering, and of course harvesting are considered exercise.  Working out in the garden for an hour a day can be a boost to both our physical as well as our emotional well being.

Image: Randy Sarvis
Having a garden allows a Family to Team up for a Common Goal.  Turning off the electronics and spending time together outside allows for great discussion and bonding time while providing all of the above qualities.  In turn, passing on the skill of growing food to the next generation is priceless!

Let’s not forget reducing the Financial Budget of any household.  Be careful though:  one can spend a fortune on gardening supplies!  Following time tested gardening on a budget rules will prevent your garden from being just an expensive hobby.  Food can be grown effectively at low cost.

We in Florida are blessed with great weather and can grow food all year round.  So get growing!!!

~ Helene Guest