Excitement about intake of locally produced foods is the focus of this blog, and it is fun! As you may know, I am compiling a list of local producers to use in food talks on this topic, and plan to feature them on the blog.
A producer we sometimes forget about is our own hands. Have you ever thought about how much food you could grow for yourself with a back yard garden, or a pot on a balcony? Even if you don't have a big plot of land, there are many options. You could start a container garden, or join one of the many community gardens in Wichita. One of the benefits of a community garden is mentoring - there are new gardeners working alongside seasoned gardeners. For older individuals, or those who prefer not to spend time on their knees, raised beds can make gardening easier on the body.
Why starting a garden is a great idea:
1. Fresh produce: Think about biting into a vine ripened tomato vs. one picked 4-7 days early in order to ship it to you before it spoils. If you've had this experience, you know the difference I'm talking about.
2. Gardening, a lifesaver in a tough economy: The Sedgwick County Extension Agency has a "Family of Four" garden. They analyze the cost savings from "fruits" of the garden. According to their blog, their "family of four" saved $21.00 this week by growing their own produce and estimate their yearly savings so far at $83.13. Wow, and the growing has just begun.
3. It's better than the gym: If you've ever spent a day doing yard work after sitting inside all winter, you know how quickly you can be reminded about the muscles you haven't used, especially the next day. Are Americans the only people who drive to the gym and circle the parking lot to find a close space, just to go inside and run, walk or bike. Ironic, huh. In my opinion, the movement I get from being in the garden is much more fun than intentional exercise at the gym.
4. Studies show kids who are involved in gardening programs eat more produce. It seems adults would be affected the same way (I know I am) but I don't have any hard data on that. Starting a seed, seeing what it produces, and then feeding yourself with it, or having an entire meal from what you produce is empowering.
5. You know, that you know, that you know, how it's raised: When you grow food yourself, you know that it's treated the way that you desire. Organic, conventional, whatever your preference, when you grow it yourself, you decide and have control over the growing techniques and practices. How's that for feeling good about what you put into your body?
If you need additional information about gardening or classes on gardening, contact the Sedgwick County Extension Agency. They've got a great guide about vegetable gardening in Kansas. If you would like a list of community garden opportunities in the Wichita area, please email me (firstname.lastname@example.org).