Edible gardening is a great first step toward self-sustainability and understanding exactly where food comes from.
Starting an edible garden may seem like an intimidating project to pursue, however, the benefits it reaps far outweigh the time it may take to become rooted in the activity.
The grocery store can be a hassle. Driving to and from the store, spending an hour or more picking out your food, another 20 minutes waiting in line and having the groceries packed can all add up to several hours subtracted from the day. Although maintaining edible gardens can seem equally time consuming, with an average of 4.9 hours spent per week (Source), it can be catered to both your time and landscape needs.
For example, a steep slope in the backyard can be utilized for raspberry or blackberry bushes, which are great for erosion control; and incorporating a trellis for growing tomatoes, beans and peppers is easier than setting up a traditional grid-lined vegetable box (Source). Integrating the natural landscape will help make the gardening process more seamless. Plus, growing your own edible garden means less time spent traveling by car to the store, which also translates to cutting carbon emissions.
In 2008, research conducted by the National Gardening Association found that a well-maintained edible garden yields an estimated ½ pound of fresh produce per square foot of garden area (Source). It was calculated that in-season market prices at the time were worth $2 per pound and that the average gardener only spent up to $70 on gardening supplies. For a 100-square-foot plot that takes up little room in the backyard, this adds up to saving an annual $700 on your grocery bill just from the produce grown in your edible garden (Source)! How’s that for profit?
Saves the Earth
An edible garden isn’t only self-sustaining, but also more sustainable for the planet as a whole. With the world’s population ever increasing, providing food to the masses without destroying other precious resources and environments will be a significant challenge.
Industrial farming meets the population’s immediate consumption demands, but is wasteful and operates with disregard of natural ecology. For example, intensive crop farming practices bypass composting practices which replenish the nutrients taken from the soil’s system when the plants are harvested. Instead, chemical fertilizers are used to quickly grow the next round of crops causing long-term depletion of organic matter, soil compaction and an overall degradation of soil quality (Source).
Furthermore, although vegetables overall have a much lower carbon footprint than the production of meats and dairies, a higher fraction of its carbon emissions is related to transportation. Transporting produce to retail markets across the nation (sometimes even flown across the globe) generates 30 percent of tomatoes’ footprint, 23 percent of broccoli’s and 15 percent of lentils’ (Source). Buying locally significantly reduces the footprint by as much as 20 percent, but growing it in your own backyard can bring it down even more.
Imagine if everyone were to grow their own edible garden. We’d vastly reduce the carbon emissions produced from transporting produce to the grocery store and the emissions generated going to the store to retrieve them, all while maintaining a better balance of our soil’s natural composition.
Good for the body and soul
Lastly, growing your own edible garden controls what you put in the soil (hopefully a nutrient-filled, organic, composted fertilizer) and what comes out of it. You know first hand that the food you put in your body isn’t ridden with chemicals, and therefore safe to eat. It’s also another reason to be outdoors, soaking up your daily dose of sunshine and reconnecting with the earth.