Food gardening in Central Texas may seem difficult to some. Indeed, it may take a few years and a few dead plants before you figure out how to use the climate to your garden’s benefit or how to defeat the pests on your leafy greens. But don’t despair, this could be your year, and even if you only get a few delicious cherry tomatoes in June, you will get so much more from your garden than you think. Here are 7 reasons to get outside and start gardening.
1. Exercise – Flexibility, weight loss, reduced bone loss, and muscle strength are all benefits of gardening, and because there is always work to be done in a garden, it’s a great way to get in your daily moderate exercise.
2. Community building– School and community gardens help foster a sense of place in a community and bring together people from different backgrounds.
3. Wonder and excitement – Watching a garden grow and evolve creates a sense of wonder in both children and adults. There is something special, if not magical, about planting tiny carrot seeds and then pulling a beautiful, orange carrot out of the soil 75 days later.
4. Life-long learning - All those times your garden failed, you learned something! And when it goes right….
5. A sense of achievement - When hard work pays off, it results in a sense of satisfaction. Helping a garden flourish boosts your emotional well-being, and you get to enjoy the fruits of your labor.
6. Connection to Earths’ cycles – Tending a garden throughout the seasons is a way to observe and be a part of Earth’s cycles. The process of enabling a seed to sprout, form flowers and fruit, then reproduce unfolds before your eyes in just a few months. Planting parsley or fennel will likely result in swallowtail butterflies laying their eggs on these host plants followed by the caterpillar offspring feeding on the plants. At SFC’s Teaching Garden, children who visit see caterpillars and chrysalides on these plants throughout the garden which boosts their understanding of relationships and cycles in nature. Caitlin Riojas, a teacher at AISD’s Elementary Disciplinary Alternative Ed. Program agrees, “In our time of computers, iPads, iPhones etc., I feel so great that these students get to be excited about being outside and connected with each other and the natural realm.”
7. Freshness – When food is harvested close to the day it is eaten, it tastes significantly better than when it is harvested weeks prior and ripened en route to the supermarket. A child who has only ever tasted store-bought tomatoes is often surprised when they pick a tomato off the plant and eat it—in our experience, they usually ask for more!
To learn about our food gardening classes and trainings, visit the Classes section of our website.