Health and happiness have always been my ultimate goal in life. Success, status and money may be common modern goals but frankly what’s the point if they don’t fill your heart with joy and make you feel bloody amazing? For me I’d rather live a simpler life and try to seek a level of fulfilment in everything I do, and luckily I have found that a life focused around growing my own food gives me the ultimate warm fuzzy glow.
Plants have been found to have a positive impact on health, productivity, creativity and general stress levels. They have even been proved to be beneficial to our physiological wellbeing. Plants are capable of filtering harmful toxins and general pollution from the air, creating a cleaner, oxygen rich and naturally humidified environment. Phytoncides, antimicrobial compounds released by trees and plants to protect themselves from rot and discourage animals from feeding on them, have been proven to actively boost the human immune system for up to 7 days. Even the natural microbiome of the soil can positively benefit the human body. Medical studies have shown that Mycobacterium vaccae a harmless soil bacterium, increases serotonin production in the brain, making people happier and better able to deal with stressful situations, it functions in short like a natural antidepressant.
Growing edible plants offers additional benefits. What could be more rewarding than sowing a seed, nurturing a baby plant to maturity and reaping the subsequent literal fruits of your labour? In this time of plastic-wrapped intensively farmed, chemically laden produce, to have complete confidence in the provenance and security of your food must be the ultimate luxury. Not only that but the nutrient level in fresh fruit and vegetables begins to tail off from the moment it has been pick meaning that home grown produce has substantially more of a nutrient kick to offer than store bought produce.
So, plants in general enrich our lives in a whole host of ways and growing our food has additional benefits to offer, but what about if we take a look outside ourselves to what benefits it could offer to the wider world? So much of our fresh food is flown in from other countries giving it an epic carbon footprint. You’ve heard of the concept of food miles, the lower the food miles of your diet, the less impact your diet is having on this amazing planet we live on. The simple fact is that if we only ate what is seasonally available from our immediate environment the world would be a far healthier place. Being conscious of the distance our food travels and how it is produced will always steer us in a better direction and what better way to instantly reduce your food miles than to start producing some of it in your own home?
In a time when so much of the population is concentrated in urban environments and when we are spending ever increasing amounts of time glued to screen-based technology, the escape from the man made that plants and especially edible one’s offer is vital to our wellbeing. It is then understandable and very right that, as our dependence on the manmade inevitably increases, our passion and drive for surrounding ourselves with nature should increase exponentially too.
Here are my 3 small changes that anyone can make to take steps towards that growing joy:
Aim to grow 3 crops to eat this year. The satisfaction from eating what you grow is enormous. Start with something easy like cut and come again lettuce [which can be grown on a windowsill or in pots], herbs and tomatoes.
Invest time in your green space, even if it’s a balcony or courtyard, you’ll spend more time there when you nurture and cultivate it. Just a clean up and a few pots can transform your outdoor experience.
Find your growing community, either online or in person. I am always amazed by the wonderful people with their incredible stories who are within our growing community.
I also love the way people come together in person to share seeds, plants and ideas.