I was up at the allotment checking my potatoes yesterday and started thinking about why growing my own has become a favourite past time. I haven’t been doing it that long, but it brings me such joy and I genuinely get excited about going up there and checking on progress. A lot of people ask why I bother – “Isn’t it easier and cheaper just to nip to the supermarket?”. Sure, I suppose the financial savings are negligible when you’re doing it on a small scale and, yes, nipping to the co-op is probably quicker.
But if you have ever tasted food grown in a garden or allotment, you’ll know that the taste is so remarkably superior. New potatoes, rather than crumbling and powdery, are tender, waxy and succulent and tomatoes are soft and sweet rather than bitter and hard. Strawberries burst with sweet nectar and herbs are strong, alive and fragrant. The produce tastes this way because it is born from the natural rhythm of nature and on a scale with which nature feels comfortable. Food which is grown out of season on a mass scale will never taste like this.
Food grown on your doorstep is seasonal and therefore packed with nutritional content – partly why it tastes so amazing. When your only shipping delay is the time it takes to get from the garden to your table, fruits and veggies are at their best. Vitamins and antioxidants in some types of produce may be more than 100 per cent higher in home grown crops than imported and mass-produced ones. As the ‘farmer’ you are also in control of what chemicals are fed into the growing process, so you can choose to go completely organic if you like.
The health benefits of growing your own continue when we consider the physical work involved. Digging, watering, raking and mounding are fantastic activities for keeping you fit and it feels wholly natural to be exercising in a way that serves a purpose beyond improving fitness. Working the land is also the perfect way to absorb lots of Vitamin D and support mental health. A garden or allotment, however small, offers a healing stillness and tranquillity and add the sound of birdsong and buzzing bees to the scene, along with the fragrance of flowers and growth, and you have the perfect recipe for a sound and happy mind.
Growing fruit and vegetables is a wonderful activity to bring family together, whether that be parents and young children, adults and elderly parents or couples wishing to spend more time together. Nature creates a wonderful, harmonious backdrop for positive interaction and gathering fresh produce with children, so they can enjoy a full earth- to- plate experience, has enormous benefits in terms of influencing a healthy, knowledgeable and easy relationship with food. According to government statistics 25% of children aged 2-10 years old are obese. There is also a sad prediction that by 2034 70% of the population will be so. These statistics are heart breaking and it seems that anything we can do to reverse them through lifestyle change and getting back to basics should be done – especially when it’s so fun.