Spring is here! Time to get out and enjoy all that nature has to offer. If you didn’t know, April is National Gardening Month, not to mention Earth Month, so a great reason to think about ways to either grow or buy the healthiest and freshest fruits and vegetables for your family.
Here area few thoughts to help you grow into healthier produce.
- Community Garden: Consider participating in a community garden. Through the American Community Garden Association, you can search for gardens in your area. A great opportunity to connect with experience gardeners for advice and beginners for support. If you are not ready to take on an entire plot, perhaps you can find another friend, neighbor or family to share one with and work together.
- Container Gardening: Many fruits and vegetables do well in containers such as strawberries, blueberries, cabbages and cucumbers. Consider picking just one to start with. Our son brought home a small cabbage plant from the school garden and we were amazed at how well it did in a larger container. If you are a city dweller with no access to a backyard, check out the Urban Organic Gardener for advice and tips on how to grow and maintain a garden regardless of the space available.
- Home Garden: Perhaps you do have the space, sunlight and determination to do this at home. While we participated in a community garden last year to get us going, we are gardening at home this year. Review this article from the Helpful Gardener to help you get started and visit the National Gardening Association to view this how-to video on maintaining your garden.
- Herb Garden: Maybe you just need to keep it simple with herbs. Fresh herbs like chives, parsley, basil and oregano are fairly easy to grow and maintain. They can be grown outdoors as well as indoors for year round flavor. And when you are at the end of the season there are several ways to store them for later use, like blending with a little olive oil, and freezing in an ice cube tray. Once frozen, just pop out a cube to spice up dishes later on.
- Farmer’s Market: So you are not into or ready for gardening, that’s OK. Check out these resources for nearby options to either pick your own or at LocalHarvest.org, to search for the farmer’s market closest to you and help keep those food purchases within your local or regional communities.
- CSA or Home Delivered Produce: Community Supported Agriculture otherwise referred to as a CSA, has been around for many years. It’s another way to buy local, seasonal food directly from a farmer. Simply put, a farmer offers a certain number of “shares” to a group of buyers. The share consists of a box of vegetables and maybe other farm products too. Via a membership, buyers purchase a share and in return receive a box of seasonal produce each week throughout the farming season. The weekly share may vary, and in some cases you can pick and choose what you would like in your box as well as have a home delivery option.
- Organic Produce: If growing anything is difficult for whatever reason and a farmer’s market or CSA is not an option, take a closer look at the produce at your grocery store and especially at those sticky labels which will tell you if the produce was grown in a conventional or organic manner, or if has been genetically modified. Download this shopper’s guide from the Environmental Working Group – The Dirty Dozen and Clean 15 or the Essential Organic Guide which both will advise you on what produce is best to buy organic. And keep an eye on where the produce comes from too. USA or Chile? More regionally located or from the other side of the country? Sometimes there is no choice, but sometimes there is, and something to keep in mind.
However you choose to grow, it’s all good for your body, soul and world around you.