Being motivated to set up and run a productive food garden is more important than knowing how to do it. Anyone can tell you what you ought to do, but the internal motivation to do it can only come from you.
Like anything else in life successful food gardening is more a function of motivation than information.
A few years ago, only passionate hobbyists and those with “green fingers” had food gardens. This has changed dramatically. Today individuals and organizations from all walks of life grow their own herbs, vegetables and fruit.
In The New Vegetable Growers Handbook: A Users Manual for the Vegetable Garden author Frank Tozer lists several reasons for food gardening.
Here’s my slightly expanded version of Tozer’s list:
It’s a great pastime
Food gardening is the most popular ‘specialist’ gardening hobby in the world. To quote Frank Tozer, “It’s been said that ‘Gardening is the natural activity of man’ and that pretty much sums it up. It is one of the most gratifying and fulfilling activities a person can engage in.” Children especially love to garden.
All food gardeners are familiar with the superior flavour of their home-grown crops. In fact, this is perhaps one of the greatest pleasures of growing your own: eating the best food that can be obtained anywhere.
It has been proved beyond doubt that crops grown with eco-friendly practices, fresh from your own food garden, is the most nutritious you can get and that it can improve your health significantly. What’s more, gardening is both a pleasant way to relax and one of the best forms of exercise, with benefits far greater than the simple burning of calories would suggest.
“In the twentieth century, industrialization and greater affluence broke the old bonds with the land. People moved to the cities and suburbs and the self-sufficient home vegetable garden became a thing of the past. To most people, food is now just another commercial product, like shampoo or detergent. It is available year-round, ready-packaged from the supermarket. It is no longer our most vital link to the earth and as a result, our view of nature has become distorted. We now see ourselves as so separate from nature that the health of the economy seems more important than the health of the planet.” – Frank Tozer
A couple of years ago few people thought of saving money as a big reason to have a food garden. This has changed and many food gardeners now depend on their food gardens to keep them well-fed, and they would be considerably poorer without them.
“Working with the earth to fulfil the basic need for food is a fundamentally benevolent activity that can help you to reconnect with nature. It can bring you back to the reality that we are totally and absolutely dependent on the earth for our well-being, and that we should look after it more carefully.” – Frank Tozer “In themselves, the feelings of well-being and happiness, fulfilment and self-worth created by working in harmony with nature, and of experiencing the richness and tranquillity of your garden, are profoundly spiritual. Being with nature is releasing, uplifting and healing.” – Pat Featherstone
But there is more to this spiritual benefit than just feelings of wellbeing and self-worth. Our food gardens also allow us to experience, first-hand, the wisdom found in Scripture. Just one example that immediately comes to mind is that you’ll reap what you’ve sown. Our food gardens also enable us to clarify, reconnect and live our values such as fun, creativity, adventure, risk-taking, growth, abundance, nurturing, vitality, perseverance, patience, collaboration and community to mention a few.
Making a difference
A food garden can make a huge difference in a family, a community, and the environment. And many people operate food gardens or teach others how to do it, simply because it allows them to make a difference.
Food Gardening Questionnaire
Whatever your reason for food gardening , it is important to remember that food gardening takes time, money and energy. Answer the following questions in your food gardening journal.
- Why do you want to start a food garden? Complete the following sentences:
- Fear of
- Love/caring/concern for
- Inspiration from
- Self-reliant in
- My main motivations for food gardening are
- Food gardening takes time, money and energy. Be realistic when you answer the following questions.
- Will you be able to spend time on a daily basis, or just on weekends?
- How much time (daylight hours) do you have available per week?
- How much money can you spend on your food garden on a monthly basis?
- How energetic/fit are you?
- How much space do you have available?
- On a scale of 1 to 10, how enthusiastic are you about food gardening?
- If your score in question 3 was seven or less, what do you need to do to make it an eight or more?
- On a scale of 1 to 10, how enthusiastic and supportive are your family about your food gardening endeavour?
- Who do you still need to convince?
- Who will champion your cause?
- Do you want to be self-sufficient, or do you simply want to get more healthy meals into your diet? If the latter, how many portions a week are you aiming for?
- How would you describe your attitude towards cooking?
- Describe your dream food garden. What do you want to achieve? Fast forward twelve weeks from today. Describe what you see. Let your imagination run riot.
- What is your biggest obstacle to achieving your dream food garden?
1. What drives you to grow your own? Be as specific as possible.
2. Describe your dream food garden in just one sentence. Then share in a Reply below.