A Produce Garden in the PNW
It’s More than Just Food
If you’re on a mission to buy more local produce, the best and most local you could get would be your own backyard. There is nothing more rewarding than walking right out your door, picking your own produce and creating a delicious dish, knowing that everything has been grown by you for your family. Also, if you have little ones, there is no better science lesson than planting and watching nature turn a seed into a beautiful delicious food.
Starting a garden in the Pacific Northwest has really been a delight, as I’m originally from Minnesota, where the growing season is relatively short. Here you have a wide variety of plants to choose from and can continue to harvest well into the fall. One of my strengths (or weaknesses) however I want to look at it, is my practicality. I’m always asking if the labor invested in growing my own produce garden is worth it? Well, in my case it is since my husband is the farmer and I’m just the harvester. But seriously, it is worth it. Here are the benefits you can begin reaping - pun intended.
A produce garden encourages you to cook - It’s true. When you know you have fresh ingredients outside just waiting to be picked and used in a delicious dish you end up cooking more at home. Just the aroma of fresh basil makes me want to whip up an Italian red sauce, or a savory pizza. We all know that cooking more at home is healthier, saves you money, and builds better family relationships.
You spend more time outside - Again if you know you have fresh ingredients or the seeds need to be planted, you’ll be outside more. At our home we only have a back patio and we spend a lot of time out there picking our produce, transplanting, watering etc. We enjoy the fresh air, my daughter likes looking at the new plants and it’s an activity that can be done as a family.
Eating becomes a gratitude practice - When you know the work that was put into the spinach in your green smoothie you definitely are more grateful. You also just enjoy the food more because you know everything about it. It’s organically grown on your back porch!
You eat more plants - We all know we need to be eating more plants. Nothing compares to a fresh tomato or pea pod straight from the garden. It’s seriously a miracle that something so deliciously sweet and nutritious can come from a small seed. You’ll want to eat the plants you grow.
You give more - Sometime through the summer you’ll end up having a large harvest of something you have planted. It’s a great opportunity to give to others. I love trading and receiving produce as a gift since I would have spent the money at a grocery store anyways. It’s the most practical gift you can give someone.
You see that your own local garden can benefit your family more than just nutritionally. If you don’t have the time to invest into growing your own food ask to buy from someone who does. I’m sure they’d love the extra cash and you’d be paying directly to the source.
Maria Halcumb is an educator who likes to spend her days writing, reading, teaching, “mothering,” and any activity outside. She is on a path to consume less, be more, and gain quality. She lives with her husband and one year old daughter in Vancouver, WA.