I learned to grow food in a small community garden in NYC’s East Village. During this time in my life I was taking a deep interest in my health and the healing powers of food. I was reading Micheal Pollack’s In Defense of Food. I was paying more attention to what I was putting into my body. I cared more and more about the quality of food I was buying.
Health was an obvious benefit of gardening for me. But what I didn’t realize at the time was how gardening would lead me to become a better, more sustainable human.
Here are three ways gardening made me a better human.
It encouraged me to shop local and support sustainable farms.
Once I started growing food I quickly realized how much work actually goes into it. Spoiler alert: it’s a lot! All of a sudden I had a much deeper appreciation for our farmers. Particularly local farmers who are growing sustainably and organically. These farmers are trying to change the farming industry and consequently help the environment and make the world a better place. I am in awe of that.
It made me deeply passionate about pollinators and other beneficial insects.
The garden is truly a magical place. Over time it develops its own little ecosystem that I happen to think is one of the coolest things ever. I learned more about the role that bees and other insects play in our food system and I was amazed. Growing up I just thought bees made honey. The end. But they actually play a vital role in food production. They pollinate 80% of the world’s crops. For every one out of three bites you take you can thank a bee for. Is your mind blown yet?
I started to care more about sustainability.
Gardening can be a basis for sustainability. As I learned more about pollinators, sustainable farming, and nature in general I couldn’t help but become more respectful of our environment. I started paying more attention to how much food we were wasting as a household. I started saving veggie scraps to make homemade stocks and started composting the rest. I bought reusable bags to take to the grocery store to reduce single plastic use. I swapped paper towels for tea towels. I’m now working on reducing waste in our home general, particularly plastic. I’m not perfect. This is an evolution that I continue to try to improve upon, but I know that small changes can have big impacts.
Having a kitchen garden may seem like no big thing, but it might just inspire you to change the world.
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