There are so many benefits of growing your own food at home, many of which you may not initially think of. The Australian Dietary Guidelines tell us that we need approximately two serves of fruit and five serves of vegetables every day – that is a lot of produce, and the costs certainly add up. So, as the cost of living is continuously rising, and the climate emergency becomes more front of mind, do we all need to be turning to home gardening? And what are all the related benefits?
Food systems and security
First off, growing your own produce at home has positive impacts on your household’s access to food. Major world events see global food systems under pressure and supermarket shelves are left empty. This makes access to affordable and fresh produce difficult. Therefore, growing food at home may be just the solution we are all looking for.
The evidence tells us that home gardens directly improve household food consumption and nutritional status. They are a cost-effective source of diverse and nutritional foods that can build long-term household food security. Therefore, growing food in your garden can strengthen your local food system as well.
While food systems are closely linked to the health of our environment, home gardening can also have direct positive impacts on the environment as well. Evidence suggests home gardening provides a unique opportunity for neighbourhoods to promote biodiversity and conserve natural resources. Studies looking at specific cases also show that growing a variety of plants at home can benefit other organisms – serving as habitats, enhancing pollination, and reducing soil erosion. Therefore, growing your own produce will also have important sustainable impacts on the environment.
There is a range of individual health benefits when it comes to getting into the garden. Some may be too obvious to even realise but they certainly can’t be ignored!
Growing your own food at home benefits our physical health by getting us outside and into the garden:
- Physical activity – improves strength, dexterity, and fitness
- Sun exposure – increases vitamin D levels and lowers blood pressure
- Access to fruit and vegetables – promotes healthy food choices
Our mental health is just as important as our physical health. The evidence tells us that at home gardening can have a number of mental health benefits including:
- Exposure to green spaces and nature improves mood and reduces stress
- Caring for something and having ownership can lead to feelings of accomplishment and satisfaction
Social health is something that is often overlooked but growing your own food can be a great way to connect with others.
- Sharing produce with neighbours
- Strengthens community networks (e.g. through community gardening)
- Knowledge sharing through generations of home gardeners
So, why wouldn’t you want to garden? Home gardening has positive impacts on not only the food system and environment, but also your individual health. It enables access to fresh and healthy food, it has a lasting effect on our natural environment, and it helps keep people healthy! What’s not to love? So, this weekend, we challenge you to get out into your garden and plant just one thing. You’ll get to enjoy the fruits of your labour in no time!
– Zoe (FFH team) 🌱