With all the worries people have about GMO foods, the high cost of organic produce, the environmental and food quality impact of local vs imported produce, the idea of planting and growing your own fresh fruits and veggies is gaining popularity. Even those of us who are city dwellers or inexperienced gardeners can grow their own fresh organic produce in a raised bed, in containers on a balcony or in a community garden.
I have done all of the above. I currently use the raised bed square foot garden method that yields maximum bounty in minimal space. I have 6 4x6 ft boxes, which provide ample space for most of what I want to grow. Melons that need more space are growing along the fence. Herbs are an easy crop to grow, plant them once and enjoy them for years. I recently trimmed my rosemary, oregano and thyme way back, dried them for later use, and still have plenty left growing to enjoy fresh herbs when I need them.
Gardening offers other benefits too. Produce begins to loose its vitality and nutrients once it’s picked. The taste of fresh picked produce that is perfectly ripe outdoes store bought. Gardening gets you outside in the sun and fresh air (something Dr. Opare recommends we do everyday to be healthy). It offers exercise. It allows you to enjoy the beauty and wonder of nature. I love discovering interesting bugs and critters, watching the birds, and feeling pride as my seeds and seedlings grow and develop. Gardening offers wonderful learning opportunities for children and encourages them to eat a wider range of produce. Some of my fondest memories are from spending time in my grandparents garden in Wyoming. We have become divorced from where our food comes from, what it really is. Gardening reconnects us to our food.
Don’t let the fact that you know little about gardening stop you. There are many great books, websites and classes available to teach you. Atlanta’s Truly Living Well garden offers classes on organic gardening. Packets of seeds are inexpensive so you can experiment and learn as you go. The sense of pride and satisfaction you get from serving a meal made from ingredients you grow is great. So start your own garden and reap the many gifts it has to offer.
Wishing you abundant health -- Ama Opare