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There’s no place like home for fresh food

Gardens provide many benefits beyond just a healthier diet

Published: Tuesday, April 18, 2017 11:54 p.m. CDT • Updated: Wednesday, April 19, 2017 12:11 a.m. CDT
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Sherry DeWalt of CGH Medical Center

Last year my husband purchased a cattle feed trough at auction and we turned it into a large container garden. 

The trough is the perfect size for our two-person household. Everything is at waist level, which makes planting, weeding, and harvesting much easier. We put it near an outdoor faucet for convenient watering. These were all obstacles that prevented me from large-scale gardening in the past.

Throughout the summer, I learned many lessons from my garden. For example, this year I will not plant all of the greens at the same time. Who can eat that much kale? And I didn’t plant nearly enough onions. Although I made mistakes I had even more pleasant surprises and successes and enjoyed watching my seeds and plants flourish and produce. 

Growing your own food almost guarantees that you and your family will eat better. You can’t grow anything in a garden that is bad for you and gardening is a good way to encourage kids to eat more vegetables. In my experience with our CGH Health Foundation Learning Gardens, I found that kids are more willing to eat something if they helped to plant, water, and watch it grow. I will never forget them lining up for slices of raw kohlrabi, or one young man telling me that the sweet-and-sour relish we made from eggplant was “better than candy!” 

But a home garden provides more than just nourishment. Gardening also provides good physical activity. From soil preparation to planting, watering, weeding, pest control, and picking there is always something to do. Gardening qualifies as a strength-training and muscle-building activity because of the bending, lifting, pushing, and pulling required.

Also, spending time in nature with green, growing things can be therapeutic. In fact, forest bathing is a new trend that has recently made its way to the U.S. from Japan, where scientists report that time spent in natural environments can reduce stress and strengthen the immune system. 

I’m not a master gardener by any means, but I get a great sense of accomplishment from my garden. I’m growing a lot of food for a little bit of money; I’m getting more activity and spending more time outdoors and I am learning a lot in the process. You should try it.

If you would like to see pictures of my garden from last year, please visit this post on the What’s Cooking CGH blog: wp.me/p792ZE-9I.

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