Here at 4 The Greater Good, we love sharing stories about inspirational people who are making the world a better place. Today we want to share with you the importance of Growing Our Own Food and 3 of our favorite teachers who just so happen to be master gardeners & inspirational heroes. These teachers have created some amazing free content and a multitude of Free resources to help us all to start growing more of our own food.
There are so many incredible benefits of growing our own food; whether you are thinking about your own individual health, or that of your community, or Mother Nature. The benefits of growing our own food are incredibly powerful. We hope you will join us. Here are just a few of the benefits...
Benefits of Growing Our Own Food
- Food is more nutritious. When growing our own food it can be picked at the peak of freshness. So much food currently is picked before it is ready because it needs to be shipped.
- Save money. Growing our own food is a great way to save money; especially because you can use organic gardening methods.
- Food will taste better than you ever thought possible. If you have ever taken a bite of a fresh from the garden tomato or eaten an ear of corn that was picked with love that morning, you know what I'm talking about.
- All of the food you grow can be guaranteed to be organic. When growing your own food organically, we are voting for fewer chemicals on our planet. We can choose to feed our plants compost, and care for the quality of soil, and handle pests naturally. This means a healthier planet.
- Building healthier soil. Part of the magic of growing our own food is understanding the importance of building our own soil. The quality of soil impacts the taste, health, and nutritional quality of our food.
- It Benefits the Earth. Mother Nature has provided so very much for us. Growing your own food can be our way of helping to take care of her. The more food we grow on our own, the more that little plot of land (or balcony, or large farm) is caring for a little piece of our planet. Every piece of food you grow is less food that needs to be shipped to you. Every time you add compost to the soil you are healing our planet. Each time you grow organic, that is a vote for fewer chemicals into our soil, our waterways, and into our bodies.
- You will be Healthier. When we grow our own food we are spending time in the sun and that vitamin D is essential for so many things. Not to mention you will be getting extra exercise. There are also studies stating that working in the soil increases levels of serotonin and reduces anxiety. Did we mention that the food your growing will be more nutritious so your health will benefit from those extra nutrients too! More exercise, more nutrients, more sunlight, and soil microbes, there are many health benefits to growing your own food.
- It's Satisfying. Growing your own food will give you an amazing feeling of satisfaction when you get it right. When you get it wrong you will research, ask gardening friends, and grow your community. When you finally are ready to harvest those tomatoes or your organic peaches from your fruit tree, you will feel a sense of pride and true appreciation for all that earth provides.
To me, the health benefits & planet impacts are more than enough to convince me to grow 4 times as much food this year as in previous years. I've been growing some of my own food for years now, but this year I'm stepping up my game. I have been having so much fun and success so far, I thought I would share with you my "Growing Your Own Food" heroes!
Growing Your Own Food vs. Gardening
Perhaps it is just a change of wording, but I wanted to clarify why we keep referring to this effort as "Growing Our Own Food" vs. "Gardening." In my eyes, gardening can be a past time, whether mastering a flower garden or landscaping your yard for curb appeal or trying to grow the perfect tomato. Gardening can include many things, including growing your own food. For the purpose of clarity on our mission here at 4 The Greater Good, we have chosen to be specific. We are not attempting to talk others into becoming gardeners (though hopefully, that will happen) we are hoping to create a movement with a very specific purpose. This movement is Growing Our Own Food.
As we start out with a new and clear sense of purpose, there are some incredible teachers available for us to learn from. These teachers are more than gardeners; they are an inspiration, and they have made it their mission to create an abundance of resources for us to use while we step forward into this mission.
Growing Our Own Food: Our Favorite Teachers
No matter where you are at in your growing your own food journey, new teachers are always a welcome addition. So if you have never grown a single vegetable, or if you have been gardening for years, we think the people below will be a welcome addition to your list of gardeners to learn from. Don't worry if you are totally new to growing your own food! Now is the perfect time to start. Here are my heroes, who inspire and teach me every day.
Our first gardener/ tv show host is one of the biggest influences to 4 The Greater Good. His television show inspired us to tell stories about inspirational people who are shaping our world for the better, as well as sell products that are helping us all to do better. If you haven't yet heard of him, or you are a long time fan, he is certainly an inspiration.
1) Joe Lamp'l - Host Growing a Greener World & Joe Gardener Podcast is an incredibly gifted organic gardener & teacher who shares his knowledge via multiple platforms including online gardening courses. What is great about Joe is his mission to inspire people. Just read his television show opening below...
"I created Growing a Greener World to tell stories of everyday people innovators, entrepreneurs, forward-thinking leaders, who were all in ways both big and small dedicated to organic gardening and farming, lightening our footprint, conserving vital resources, protecting natural habitats, making a tangible difference for us all. They are real, they are passionate, they are all around us. They are the game-changers who are literally growing a greener world and inspiring the rest of us to do the same. Growing a Greener World, it's more than a movement it's our mission!" - Joe Lamp'l
Not only is Joe an inspirational television show host, but he is also an expert gardener. As you already know, buying organic produce matters, but one thing that is even better than buying organic produce is growing your own. Joe Lamp'l is a great person to turn to for getting you started. Here are just a few resources Joe provides...
- Organic Gardening Academy - If you are serious about starting to grow your own food, this course is a great option. Beginning gardeners spend lots of money trying to figure out how to fix our own mistakes, and this academy will more than pay for itself in its first year. This is a relatively new course (only second or third year) and I haven't taken it yet, but I have spent so much time and money on my first attempts at growing my own seeds, that this online course could have saved me.
- Joe Gardener videos - These videos are free and will share with you information on a wide variety of gardening tips; from how to properly plant your own trees/shrubs to how to build your own compost bin. I can personally attest to how helpful these videos are, and I used these to build my own compost bin from shipping pallets.
- Joe Gardener Complete Guide to Home Composting - Composting will be a game-changer for your gardening at home. This is another invaluable resource for me. If you do not yet know about the importance of home composting, or the benefits it provides to our planet, please take a moment and read this article. If you know about the benefits but aren't sure how to begin, please read this article. If you know about the benefits, have your own compost but would like it to break down more quickly, read this article. If you are overwhelmed with the complications of browns vs. greens, read this article. Hint Hint, browns vs. greens really doesn't matter! It will all break down eventually; even if you do it wrong!
I could write an entire page (or maybe even book) about all of the amazing things Joe Lamp'l is teaching us, but for now, follow him on social media, and refer to the links above to learn lots of tips and help make your gardening efforts even more productive and delicious! Also here are some of my absolute favorite Growing a Greener World episodes!
- Growing a Greener World & The Power of Worms
- Growing a Greener World & Green Bronx Machine
- Growing a Greener World & Trading Football for Farming
2) Next on our list of inspirational teachers for growing our own food is Deanna, also known as, DeannaCat. While her last name may be a mystery, 174,000+ people are following her Instagram account and for good reason. Deanna is reaching a new generation of gardeners and quite simply inspiring so many of us to get back to the soil & appreciate the beauty of growing our own food & tending to Mother Nature.
"I am all about simple living, growing (and eating!) plants, and tending to my family and ecosystem the best I can." - Deanna.
I first stumbled across Deanna two years ago because her raised beds caught my eye on Instagram. Her Instagram post included step by step instructions for how to build this bed, and that's when my learning from her began. Now she has moved to a larger platform and has an incredible blog full of beautiful photos from her garden, called Homestead & Chill. Please go and follow it! You won't be sorry.
Seriously you guys, look how awesome these raised beds are (image c/o DeannaCat3 on Instagram!) Swoon...
What I love about her blog is the wide variety of topics she covers and the specific details she shares so you can get it right the first time. However, my absolute favorite part, is that she and her husband grow 85% of their own food, on .2 acres of property!!!! She calls it a food forest, and well, you should probably take a look at her before & after photos to get a full understanding of her passion for gardening. Deanna's garden is based in zone 9-10 in California, but don't worry, she includes details in her blogs and guides for all zones. Plus did we mention the photos???? Here are some great resources she provides:
- Homestead & Chill, the blog, headquarters for all of the amazing things!
- Instagram where you can see the photos and learn about the chickens, cats, kombucha, garden pests, preserving foods, and garden beauty.
- Those beautiful raised beds we mentioned. You can find directions for those here.
- Looking to start composting? She's got a great guide.
- Are you a completely new gardener and not sure where to begin? No worries, she's got you covered!
Here is her video tutorial on how to build a raised bed; these beautiful raised beds are what first caught my eye on Deanna's Instagram, and I've been hooked ever since.
For those of us who are inspired to grow our own food, Deanna's beautiful photos, daily walkthroughs of her gardens, and clear step by step guides make growing our own food fun and successful!
3) Paul Gautschi is our third and final featured gardener for this series. We highly encourage others to start growing our own food, 4 the greater good & for our own good. Paul Gautschi is a much lower profile gardener and we've only just learned about him a few months ago. In the world of gardening, no-till gardening is finally getting the respect it deserves. In order to care for our plants & our land, we need to stop tilling up the soil. Paul Gautschi is an expert at teaching people how to grow gardens the easy way. You won't find Paul blogging, or on social media, he's a farmer who doesn't use a computer. However, you can find Paul & his Back to Eden farming method on youtube from visitor videos. Paul opens his garden and his home to visitors throughout the year, and he walks his guests through the garden and shares his wisdom and advice. It's very inspirational and many of his methods are not well known, yet.
Shout out and thank you to: Growing Back to Eden on IG for this image! Here are a few things I loved about watching his videos & have learned from his teachings:
- Care for the soil & you will have better-tasting plants. Kale is bitter when it's grown through soil that does not contain the proper nutrients; when kale is grown in nutrient-dense soil, the entire taste of the plant is much better tasting.
- Do not leave the soil "naked." Look at a forest floor, the soil is never exposed, but covered by decomposing plants. This builds the soil and nutrients. In traditional farming we clear the soil and pull weeds often; Paul believes this should be avoided.
- Prune your fruit trees often to produce more fruit, and prune them so you can pick the fruit easily. Cover the soil surrounding your trees, and you will have some delicious fruits.
Although you won't find Paul on social media, here are a few resources that I think you will absolutely love!
- Back to Eden Film - this film is a documentary-style and includes many teachings from Paul throughout. It's a great way to get an understanding of his methodology & thought process around caring for the land.
- Paul talks about his orchard in this quick video, and it was really informative for me as a beginner.
- Paul Gautschi takes his visitors on a tour in July 2018. This video was my first introduction to Paul's gardening methods and what had me hooked. This is a 3-hour video, it's intense and a gardener's dream!
HOW CAN I BEGIN GROWING MY OWN FOOD?
- We recommend you start by reading Deanna's article, "How to Start a Garden, 101." This will cover the basics of getting started; choosing a sunny location, size, style, water, and also very important, the soil.
- Next, sign up for her email list to receive her "Garden Planning Toolkit" This is an awesome resource and I refer to it each and every season, as I rotate crops, and to remind me what time of year to plant each vegetable.
- Then watch Growing a Greener World's episode, "The Power of Worms." This episode does more than talk about worms, but it shows you just how important the soil is for our plants. It's typically an overlooked part of gardening, but it will impact the nutrient content of your food, the health of your plants, and the taste. This episode was very eye-opening for me!
- Spend some time watching Paul Gautschie give a tour of his garden. He will explain the benefits of not tilling our soil, the proper way to cover our soil, and why so many plants taste so bitter.
- Have your soil checked.
- Just get started! You will make mistakes, we all do, but each time you do you become a better gardener than the day before. You will be helping the planet, your family, and your health, 4 the Greater Good!
What are the best plants to start with when Growing My Own Food?
We have a few different recommendations here and this will all depend on the space you have available. However, if you have a yard, even a small one, we have a few suggestions...
- Start with a few herbs. Herbs are easy to grown and many will come back every year with little to no effort. Our Long Island soil loves oregano, thyme, lavender, basil and rosemary.
- Consider planting for fruit. Fruit can be a welcome addition to any garden but typically it won't produce for a few years. We recommend adding your blueberry bushes, apple trees, or grapevines to your yard as soon as possible so it can start growing now.
- Your favorite veggies are also a great place to start. Do you love tomatoes? Are you a fan of bell peppers, or absolutely love carrots? Start with the plants you love so you can see this year just how much better plants can taste when you grow them yourself.
So please join us as we attempt to grow more of our own food this year. Even if this means you will plant some herbs in your window; it's a start. Let's all make 2020 the year when more people around the world started growing our own food. Please follow us on Instagram and let us know what you will be planting! We look forward to hearing from you. Do you have any other expert gardeners that you would add to our list? Let us know!