The world has started paying more attention to the quality of food we consume. Our fresh vegetables get treated with pesticides that can harm us and the soil. Livestock is pumped with steroids and antibiotics so they can grow faster. Not only do these practices affect our health, they also affect the taste of our food. That’s why many Americans have started to embrace suburban farming. You don’t need a huge tract of land to grow things. Besides edible plants, many people choose to raise chicken or goats. Whether you plant a garden in your yard or cooperate in a community farm, you gain more control over the quality of your food. Plus, you can make a huge positive impact on your community and your environment.
1. It Builds Community
For some, suburban gardens might just be a private little garden in the family’s backyard. But for many, vegetable and fruit gardens become a community project. In fact, the USDA has even recognized the importance of suburban farming and has launched a campaign called People’s Garden. The idea is to educate the community about sustainable living and how gardens help improve the environment around them. There are thousands of People’s Gardens all over the U.S. They even have gardens in 4 U.S. territories and 12 different countries.
People who participate not only learn new things, they build relationships. In today’s world we don’t often go out of our way to meet our neighbors. We could live next to someone for years and never even know their names. Community gardens give us a good reason to get out the house and socialize. You could even organize a get-together during harvest and share tips for next year’s planting or trade recipes. By building relationships with neighbors you build safer a and stronger community where neighbors go from strangers to lasting friends.
2. It’s Great for Your Health
Gardening isn’t just a fun pastime. It’s also a heart-healthy form of exercise. According to Fitness Blender, depending on your age, weight, and metabolism, you can burn as many as 600 calories in an hour of gardening. Working outdoors also allows you to absorb vitamin D which can help improve your mood and immune system. The Centers for Disease Control says that two and a half hours of moderate exercise like gardening confers a number of other benefits. It reduces the risk for obesity, high blood pressure, type 2 diabetes, osteoporosis, heart disease, stroke, depression, colon cancer and premature death.
3.It Benefits the Environment
Suburban farming isn’t just good for your personal health it’s also good for the health of Planet Earth. By planting a garden, you clean the air. Plants absorb CO2 and release oxygen. They also filter pollutants from the air we breathe. A garden also adds nutrients to the soil, thereby enriching it for later crops. Gardening also provides habitats for pollinators. Creatures like honey bees, butterflies, birds, and bats depend on flowering plants.
When you eat food that you grow near home, you don’t buy as much food from stores. The food we buy requires tremendous amounts of fuel to move it around the globe and even to get it home from the store. Plus, it usually comes in packaging, which may wind up in landfills for centuries to come. The more you grow close to home, the less pollution and waste you contribute.
4. It Teaches Compassion, Patience, and Science
Children can learn a lot from suburban farming. By caring for living things, whether plants or animals, they learn compassion. Waiting for something to grow from a seed to an edible snack or for a chicken to lay eggs takes patience. Of course, the entire experience serves as a lesson in biology. Children can learn to identify types of plants and understand concepts like photosynthesis. They learn to discuss food webs and interdependence in nature. Many children learn best in a hands-on environment complete with dirty hands. A suburban farm is a great place to get them started.
5. It Relaxes You
This article from Michigan State University describes how “gardening has also emerged in recent years as a scientifically proven stress reliever.” Gardening makes many people feel calm and connected with nature. Many people struggle to choose between peaceful rural living and the convenience of suburbia. Communities like Aberlin Springs give you the best of both worlds. Essentially this community enables you to live like your in a rural town while living in a suburban city. You own a portion of a farm and eat fresh seasonal produce all year round!
This community is the first “agri-community” in the Cincinnati area but this idea is taking off nationwide. All over the U.S. “agrihoods” are popping up in places like Davis, California, Phoenix, Arizona, and Boise, Idaho. A community like this is perfect for those who love the feeling of rural living. Rather than coming home from a long day of work and pulling into a neighborhood of identical houses you get to pull into a driveway surrounded by greenery and farm animals. It’s definitely a great way to start your evening or weekend.
Whether you’re considering growing a garden for yourself or to help your neighborhood, suburban farming can be a cheap and easy project. Not only will it improve your own health but it will also help strengthen the environment and your community.