The Benefits of Planting Your Own Garden

Planting a garden seems like such a tedious task involving way too much work, but the confidence and sense of independence you gain is definitely worth the effort it takes. Not only does it reduce your carbon footprint because you aren’t using that energy to drive to the store for your produce, but it invites you to become environmentally aware. Growing your own food also releases the dependency you may have on other people to provide for you; you’re growing your own meals, in a sense, so you do not need to worry about the grocery store unexpectedly going out of stock. As you become more independent, you become more outgoing and more open to converse with others about your garden – you become an example and influence others to grow their own garden. In his essay “Why Bother?”, Michael Pollan, a professor of journalism at the University of California, Berkeley states: “[Growing] even a little of your own food is…one of those solutions that, instead of begetting a new set of problems…actually beget other solutions” (511). Planting a garden will not only be beneficial for the environment by reducing your carbon footprint, but for yourself as well because it will encourage your independence and help you to engage with others as you set an example.

Reducing your carbon footprint is an important factor to consider when deciding to plant a garden. If we get our fruits and vegetables from our own front yard instead of driving to the store and buying food that has, itself, been driven and/or imported there, we emit less carbon dioxide (CO2) into the air. Less CO2 in the air equals less CO2 poisoning our bodies. While it is true that plants require CO2 to produce oxygen, how are they to complete that process if we don’t plant them in the first place? Being environmentally conscious and purchasing your produce from a store at the same time forces you to think about how it got there in the first place. Pollan states that we have to “consider not only ‘food miles’ but also whether the food came by ship or truck…” (507). When we decide to eliminate that part of our carbon footprint, we become more independent.

As a society, we are way too dependent on other people to provide for us than we are dependent upon ourselves. We expect the food to be at the store when we need it to be. If we have a craving for apples, we don’t go out to our front yard and pick one from the tree – we drive to the store and get a pound of apples because we expect the apples to be there. We, as consumers, depend on the employee in charge of buying produce to provide apples for us; no one expects or depends on an apple shortage. Planting a garden that includes an apple tree and whatever other fruits and/or vegetables that you desire ensures that whenever you need it, want it, or crave it – the food will be there. Pollan tells us that planting a garden is “one of the most powerful things an individual can do…to reduce [their] sense of dependence…” (510). Once we become more independent as people, we become more confident while conversing with others.

By planting a garden, you set an example for others to do the same while engaging in conversation at the same time. Those neighbors that you never speak to will become curious once they notice all your bountiful crop. They will ask questions that you will happily answer in return. (Because why wouldn’t you be eager to share how much you’re not spending on produce at the grocery store?) Your neighbors will then be encouraged to plant their own garden and spread the word of their own success, thus sparking a chain reaction which can only lead to great outcomes. “If enough people bother,” Pollan expresses, “markets for all manner of green products and alternative technologies will prosper and expand” (509). The benefits of planting a garden go further than just paving the way towards a healthier lifestyle and is well worth the energy you put into it.

If you feel like planting a garden seems like too much work – that you don’t feel that putting in the time and effort will be worth it – consider the numerous benefits. Deciding to plant a garden is a conscious decision to reduce your carbon footprint; by making that conscious decision, you become more aware of the impact you have on the environment. Your dependence on others to provide your basic produce needs decreases as your garden grows, thus increasing your own independence in return. You then start a conversation with others as they lead by your example. Setting an example for others by planting your own garden invites conversation and awareness about the environment while increasing your sense of independence at the same time. The decision to plant a garden is not an easy one to make, but for me, personally, it is a somewhat necessary one. With a bountiful fruit and vegetable garden at hand, it is far easier to go and pick healthy snack foods than it is to spend money on processed junk food. “Rule 56” in Pollan’s Food Rules states: “If you are going to snack, try to limit yourself to fruits, vegetables, and nuts” (123). Like many Americans, I have addiction to processed snack food. Having fruit and vegetables readily available would severely limit the amount of processed food that would go into my body; likewise, it would do the same for you. Planting a garden makes it so much easier to follow “Rule 56” and encourages the healthier lifestyle we all need to continue to live long, healthy lives.

Works Cited

  1. Pollan, Michael. “Why Bother?” Beyond Words. Ed. John Ruskiewicz, Daniel Anderson, and Christy Friend. 3rd ed. New York: Longman. 2010. 507-511. Print.

  2. Pollan, Michael. Food Rules, An Eater's Manual. New York: Penguin, 2009. Print.