Why start a vegetable garden?
April 19, 2016
Do you have a vegetable garden? Can you think back to when you started it?
If you have a vegetable garden, especially if you started it recently, please tell me in the comments below what made you start your garden?
Over the last month as I have introduced my new book, Grow Just One Thing – The first step in a fresh food journey to the media and the world I have been asked one common question. It is “What made you start your vegetable garden?”
The reason why you do something, the “why” or your “story” is the thing that helps people understand your motivation and dreams. It helps them to decide if there is any commonality they can relate to, or wish to explore.
Starting a vegetable garden changed my life, in a significant way. Starting a vegetable garden was something I experimented with when I was pregnant with my first son and it triggered a passion that has changed the way we live, the way I work, how we eat, plan and source food. It has evolved into a lifestyle that I never imagined, or even contemplated 9 years ago. It evolved over a period of years. So what was it? How did it happen?
In answer to the question – It all began, and all continues because of this little boy and (now also) his brother :
When my beautiful little boy arrived I was totally besotted. I made it my mission to ensure that his little body only had the very best food put into it to help him grow and develop, to be healthy and happy. I did not want him to have any food that was processed, nothing with additives or chemicals. I did possibly become a little obsessive and have since relaxed a little!
Not too much longer after our first son was born, we moved from Melbourne to a suburb of Geelong. We moved to a house with nothing in the backyard except a lemon and feijoa tree. I could now grow the vegetable garden that had failed to thrive at our previous home.
We welcomed our second little boy to our family and he watched in his bouncer or on a blanket as we built and planted the vegetable garden. Later he started to help and be involved in the process, as his big brother was. This family time was, and is, as precious as the food we grow.
Over a period of the last 5 years we have created 40 square meters of vegetable growing space plus a few fruit trees. The vegetable garden now provides us with most of our summer vegetables and I add ingredients to our family meals on a daily basis across the remainder of the year. You can read my case study on how much we grow in this post I wrote recently. Our vegetable garden, and the inspiration it provides me for family meals has become my passion.
I lost the desire to return to my corporate role after our second son was born. When I really thought about it, I wanted to garden and cook. Who wouldn’t? My corporate life was based on influencing people to accept changes in the workplace that did not always make sense from an employee perspective. I also wrote internal communication materials and worked on large organisational learning programs – some spanning many countries. I enjoyed my work but in reality I felt that I was not contributing anything that would mean anything in the future.
I now aim to influence the broader community. I want all Australian families to experience what it is like to grow their own fresh food, to reduce trips to the supermarket and to spend time with your children building an appreciation for nature, seasonality, and food.
I believe that anyone can grow their own fresh food at home and experience the lifestyle benefits of doing so. I started this blog, A Fresh Legacy, to simply share my love of our productive garden and what I was cooking. Over time this has evolved as the community and my knowledge has grown. Last year I created the Kitchen Garden Box® to give people more than written content, to provide a physical tool to help them get their vegetable garden started and to remove some of the barriers they were telling me were stopping them from growing fresh food at home.
Most recently I published my book Grow Just One Thing – The first step in a fresh food journey. It has allowed me to express how growing a vegetable garden is the first (and very easy) step of an overall lifestyle change that may be made if you would like to do so. That lifestyle involves everything to do with food, including your use of time and all of the processes, shopping choices, cooking, activities, and family time. My book is based on the premise of momentum, the changes that are triggered by growing just one thing. It outlines our family journey and how it has evolved for us. It is not intended or recommended to be suitable for everyone, it is about providing some insights to allow the reader to pick what may apply in their circumstances.
When my boys were young they were keen to help me in the garden. They participated in all of the gardening and in some of the cooking once we collected the ingredients for the evening meal. Now they are 8 and 5 years old and both at school this year, they are at a different stage.
This makes me a little sad, despite it being only the physical involvement that has changed. The solid foundation remains. They know where their food comes from. They understand seasonality and the effort required to produce food. They know that each night they will have ingredients on their dinner plate that have been grown in our garden They are willing to try any new food I offer them and for that I am very grateful. They eat well and have always done so (my youngest son is a little fussy but you can read more about that in the book if you wish).
My eight year old is not currently interested in growing vegetables but he is very interested in cooking. Recently he has started to spend time reviewing what is available in the garden, on the kitchen bench and in the cupboards and he then writes a recipe idea and method (most often a dessert) we can share – a great transition I think !
My story – the one of me gardening with two little helpers beside me is changing. My children were the reason my passion for fresh food was ignited and it has lead to an amazing family journey for us. That will not change. That passion continues.
The way my children share and participate in it will change as they grow.
Today I am setting up the first of what I hope will be many kindergarten vegetable gardens. The children will learn about seeds and then plant their garden. They will get to take home a seedling pot to add to, or to start their garden at home. Pre-school is a wonderful time to teach and grow a love of growing and eating fresh food. The children are naturally curious, excited and eager to learn about the world around them.
Today is the start of the opportunity to share a love of gardening and fresh food with many more children, beyond my own. If you would like more information on how I am working with kinders you can contact me via [email protected]
Please tell me – If you have a vegetable garden why did you start it? What was the one main reason you did so?
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