Sustainability is more than just a trend or a hot-button issue. It’s becoming a way of life for many people across the globe, inspiring individuals and families to lead more environmentally responsible lives.
One of the best ways to do that, especially at home, is to create a garden-to-table ecosystem that will allow you to live off the land as much as possible, and enjoy fresh, organic ingredients in your cooking, all while reducing your carbon footprint.
Creating this kind of ecosystem comes with many personal benefits, as well, and it could become a gateway toward other healthy sustainable habits.
This transformative way of living is easier to accomplish than you might think, even if you haven’t necessarily had a green thumb in the past.
Planting a garden is one of the easiest and most beneficial upgrades you can make in a sustainable, eco-friendly home. It’s also one of the most financially responsible. Some of the best eco-friendly home upgrades with the highest ROI include:
- Solar panels
- LED lightbulbs
- A tankless water heater
- Energy-efficient doors and windows
You might not make a lot of money from your own garden (unless you choose to sell your produce), but you’ll certainly save money on grocery bills, transportation costs, and you’ll reduce food waste.
Additionally, you’ll become “rich” in whatever you grow. When done correctly, you’ll have enough to feed your family, and perhaps more to spare for friends and neighbors. You could inspire others to start their own garden-to-table ecosystem, doing your part to help the world around you.
As mentioned above, growing a garden has personal benefits, too. Gardening can reduce stress and anxiety, and the routine of taking care of your garden each day can be soothing and give you something to look forward to.
If you’re ready to start planting but aren’t sure where to begin, don’t let the idea of growing your own food intimidate you. Sustainable gardening starts with companion planting. It’s the process of planting certain crops near each other so they can help each other grow faster, produce a bigger harvest, and give you more variety. From a sustainability standpoint, companion planting provides natural pest control, and the plants won’t be competing for food and water.
You can find plenty of companion planting guides online, and you’ll be pleasantly surprised to find that many of your favorite herbs and vegetables pair well together and will make it easier to keep your garden thriving. For example, tomatoes and basil are natural companion plants. They’ll keep away pests without having to invest in harmful insecticides, and can be used together in your favorite tomato sauce!
In addition to companion planting, how you water your garden matters. Obviously, your crops need sufficient water and nutrients to grow, but you don’t want to waste gallons of water each day. Some of the best ways to practice more eco-friendly watering include:
- Adding organic matter to your soil
- Delivering water straight to the roots
- Using mulch to retain water
- Collecting and utilizing rainwater
When you avoid using pesticides and other harmful chemicals in your garden, you’ll benefit the planet and local wildlife. Obviously, you don’t want critters munching on your produce. But, insects like bees and butterflies can be incredibly beneficial for your garden and for local pollination. Having some colorful flowers in your garden as well as some places to rest will attract these helpful insects, as well as birds who can keep pesky pests away.
Once you’ve successfully grown your first crops, whether it’s a few herbs or a bounty of tomatoes, it’s time to put them to use! Again, you can choose to sell your harvest if you’ve grown enough, give some to friends and family, or get into more homesteading practices like canning and preserving, so you’ll have fresh produce year-round to reduce your dependence on big box stores.
The more vegetables you grow, the easier it will be to get into plant-based cooking. Not only is a plant-forward diet better for you, but it’s better for the environment too. Plant-based eating helps to reduce greenhouse gases, preserves water and land, and preserves biodiversity. Even on a small scale with a home garden, you’re doing your part to cut back on the harm caused by carnivorous diets.
From a nutritional standpoint, you’ll enjoy things like reduced inflammation, better immune support, and a reduced risk of cancer from a plant-based diet. So, don’t be afraid to get creative with your crops and think of ways you can incorporate them into more of your meals. Plant-based proteins like lentils and beans are great for hearty meals, while dark leafy greens are rich in fiber and essential nutrients, and can be added to just about anything. Take a gradual approach, and focus on simple swaps rather than transforming your entire diet overnight.
Whether you have a small windowsill herb garden or a dedicated plot of land in your yard, creating a garden-to-table ecosystem at home is easy, beneficial, and can help inspire those around you to live more sustainably.
Image Source: Unsplash.