Howdy from down on the farm! We are nearing the end of our series on Simple and Easy Skills to Make you Grocery Store Free. If you haven't joined us on the journey please find those previous posts below:
Week 1- Simple and Easy Ways to Make you Grocery Store Free Includes free menu plan and more)
Week 2- 7 Reasons for Eating Seasonably Down on the Farm
Week 3- Learn to Eat in Season and Love it! Includes menu planner, recipe cards and Seasonable Eats Chart
Week 4- Food Recalls Make you Sick and Tired: Best Ways to Gain Food Security Learn why eating locally is so great!
This week we are sharing 5 great reasons to grow your own food, the essence of this blog series. This is the most productive and best way to kick the grocery store to the curb!
#1 Saves a Load of Money
Gardening may be done where ever your live. If you are living in an apartment plants may be grown in pots inside and out (on a porch), quail may be raised in cages for eggs, fish in tanks for more food. If you have a small city lot, whether you are renting or buying, square foot gardens, raised garden beds and container gardens work great. If you are blessed with 1/2 acre, 1 acre or 40 acres you can grow some or all of your own food.
Gardening is a low cost investment. You may spend as little as a dollar or two on seeds and use the ground or container that you have or you can invest money into garden beds, compost and tools. Gardening can fit any budget. Just keep in mind that it is an investment, that means a little more up front than what you might spend at the grocery store initially.
You get way more from a packet of seeds than your money will get you in the grocery store. Lets take zucchini for instance. Our family, when we buy our produce, go for the organic, locally grown produce. At the moment zucchini is going for over $3 a lb at our local health food store. This year, I (and yes I'm taking the credit for this) planted 17 zucchini plants. Most gardeners jaws are dropping right now. One plant is said to feed the world. Hand raised high here.. yes I'm an over achiever and I couldn't part with those starts that came up. So to say the least we have our share of zucchini. I weighed a single days harvest last week and we had 7.5 lbs. x $3 a pound would have been $22.50. I think we paid for our $2 package of seeds, don't you? We get that harvest about every other day for the last month. Lets say thats about 112 lbs of zucchini, thats over $300 of food in one month. A savings wouldn't you say?! I know what you are thinking, how do you eat that much zucchini?! Check out our Zucchini Recipe post for ideas. But also make sure you plant some other seeds too! ;)
Cooking from scratch with whole foods cuts your food budget down. Now one more step, growing those whole foods, is going to make your food bill plummet.
Money isn't everything though, lets check out some other reasons to grow your own food.
#2 Better Health
Now that you are eating all those home grown whole foods your health will be better for it. What do you get from better health? More ability to do things around the home because of better health and more time in which to do those things. Time that was previously spent on taking care of your health. Better health means less doctors visits and less spent on healthcare. It means less time lost from work because of illness. It means less time spent with sick children. All of that is money in your pocket. Not to mention saying goodbye to any health problems that may have been diet related. Its amazing what food can do for our bodies when its the right type.
We get nutrients from the garden that we can't get at the store. There are so many microbes in the soil that get washed off and sanitized when it goes to the grocery store. When we grow our own food there is a freshness like no other and a plant picked at its peak is more nutritious than one that is picked when green and then shipped from thousands of miles away.
Fresh air is great for our health. After a long winter no doubt everyone is ready to get out and about. What better reason than to go out and work in the garden for a while. Its an excuse to get even more fresh air. In times past people use to spend much more time outside than we do in our modern culture.
#3 God's Gym
Nothing like a workout in God's Gym (aka the garden or yard or barnyard). Thanks to Justin at Abundant Permaculture for the term (Earth's Gym), though we added our own twist to it. There is nothing like using a pitchfork to turn hay or clean out barnyard stalls to get a good sweat going. Or digging up potatoes, pruning plants, climbing apple trees for apples, bending over to plant seeds or pull weeds. And guess what? Instead of paying for a gym membership, gym clothes or workout videos this exercise PAYS YOU - in food! See reason #1 for growing your own food. Each and every gardening tool will give you a new workout and probably find muscles for you that you didn't know you had.
Gardening increases the amount of fresh air going through your system and with this exercise you will leave your work feeling ready for the rest of your day. It just clears up the mind and makes thinking much easier!
Gardening is also a wonderful workout for children, who are usually most willing to help any how! In reading about ADHD, autism and other details about the spectrum of learning issues, many of the therapies are simulating things that children would naturally do on a farm. Such as balancing on a balance beam vs a log to improve balance and body awareness. Pushing and pulling heavy carts of books to expend energy. It leaves me wondering..... if we returned to our farming roots would the numbers of children with ADHD, autism and learning disabilities decrease dramatically?
Sometimes it seems that we have lost so much education in our modern age. Sure we can google this and that when ever we have a question. But is that really knowledge? Or just being resourceful? When one grows their own garden they learn all sorts of things about the seasons, season changes, weather patterns, when to plant, when to wait, when to harvest, how to harvest.
Instead of learning about plant parts in elementary school gardeners learn them by growing the plant. Learning what part of the plant is good to eat, which part is not, how to use the plant, how to save seeds. Reading about the plant parts is one thing but working with them, growing them, cooking with them, is a whole new education that just doesn't come out of a book. It also sticks in the memory a lot better.
Gardening also teaches us about cooking and preserving. Knowing the characteristics of a plant and what kind of weather it likes or doesn't and how much water it needs, tells us about preserving that plant for future use. Do we want to ferment that plant, dehydrate it, can it, cook it, eat it raw, save it for winter or eat it now because it doesn't store so well?
We learn about budgeting too because we have to know how much our family eats of which vegetable, how long that harvest will last us until the next harvest, what to eat if it doesn't last. How much money it will save us to grow it or if it isn't worth our time and effort and we should plant something else.
It also teaches us about life and death. All things must come to an end and that is true with every garden. We are excited to start the seed in the ground and be God's help in watering the plant and pulling away the weeds. We watch it grow bigger, bigger, bigger until it reaches full maturity and fruits. Then we take our harvest from the plant. And then... the plant dies. Perhaps it will come back next year or maybe we just saved the seed. The off-spring of the plant which will live on the next year. Gardening can teach so many lessons.
Life and death are just one spiritual lesson that gardening teaches us. Our first beginnings were in a garden with Adam and Eve, an apple tree and a serpent. Our Savior was buried in a garden after His Crucifixion. At Easter we celebrate the Divine Gardner who rose from the dead. The entire old testament is filled with so many parables about the garden and raising one's own food. It was a way of life back then to have to work and garden for ones substance. While food is still necessary for us we have lost our connection with it through the use of the grocery store and mass production.
And he said: Let the earth bring forth the green herb, and such as may seed, and the fruit tree yielding fruit after its kind, which may have seed in itself upon the earth. And it was so done.  And the earth brought forth the green herb, and such as yieldeth seed according to its kind, and the tree that beareth fruit, having seed each one according to its kind. And God saw that it was good. -Genesis 1:11-12
Weeds can be a symbol for sin and vice in the world. When we pull that grass away from that squash or cucumber we are saving that wanted plant from another unwanted plant that will take away its nourishment. Sin is so much the same way. It sucks away the nutrients that we need, God's grace. Good microbes and earth worms are like God's gifts, they are God's gifts! They help the soil become rich and healthful to the growing plant.
The garden is a wonderful place to meditate on God's gifts and His teachings. Its a great stress relief and way to relax.
Alright, how do I grow my own food? If you have come this far with us in the blog series you learned that the best way to get started it to buy what you might grow and learn how to cook with that and menu plan around it. In our next post we will talk about how to get started with gardening. We hope that you will join us. The best way to keep up with our new posts is to join our e-newsletter (by the way you get a free cup of tea to boot!). You can do that here! Want to see what we are un to daily? We tend to favorite Instagram so if you aren't following us there then hop on over to our page and start following! Also keep up with both blog posts and Instagram goodness on our Facebook page.
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Howdy from our farm to your home! It is said that the, "farm is the nursery of the family," and that "the family is the nursery of the nation." We hope you enjoy your visit to our blog as we share with you the happenings on our little "nursery". Thank you for following us on our journey and watching us GROW! Read more about our farm HERE.
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