Many of us would naturally prefer to eat homegrown organic food. It tastes better, is more nutritious and ticks all of the proper health, sustainability and self-sufficiency boxes. Yet, most people are still reticent about starting their backyard veggie patch for a variety of reasons. We look at the three main reasons we hear most about why they are reluctant to begin their homegrown food journey.
Every homegrown food conversation has reoccurring themes around why people have yet to start their home veggie patch. They can be easily broken down into three main categories. Firstly, many people feel that they lack sufficient knowledge to start or believe they don't have the money or finances to create a garden or, because of their busy lives, simply don't have the time to look after a home veggie patch. As with all the decisions we make in our lives, it comes down to priorities and perspectives.
For the last fifty years in western developed countries, growing food at home was something no one needed to do. Stores and supermarkets were brimming with low-cost food and produce. A quick trip in your car could transport you to a veritable wonderland of abundance, choice and convenience. Why would anybody feel the need to slog it out, day after day, in a home vegetable garden to produce what was sitting on a shelf and required no more effort than a swipe of a credit card?
* Backyard vegetable gardens were commonplace in the first half of the last century.
Growing food was something that Grandma and Grandad did. Sure, Christmas holiday visits were replete with their fresh garden produce, and it did taste different from what mum was buying at the supermarket. But they were out in that garden all day, working for what seemed like an eternity to an eleven-year-old, just to place a small basket of produce on the kitchen bench at mealtimes. It hardly seemed convenient or economical, and they had been doing it for years, so they had a wealth of knowledge about this plant and that compost. Grandad could talk about tomatoes for hours, especially the weird-looking non-acidic yellow ones he grew because they didn't play up with his arthritis.
Who could or would ever even want to recreate that?
Well, that generation had veggie patches because they lived through hard times. Things like world wars and global economic depressions. They had to have some backup and insurance against rising food prices and empty grocery shelves. Otherwise, they would go hungry, and the knowledge, effort and cost required to have a veggie garden is immensely more preferable than not having any food. Their priority was to protect their families from not having enough food; from their perspective, that was a real possibility.
Let's fast forward to today and review our priorities and perspectives on the value of a home veggie patch. While a home vegetable garden mitigates the chance of us going hungry, it also offers us many other benefits and positives. These are much more specific to the life and times we find ourselves in than what our grandparents faced. Benefits like improved food nutrition and better health outcomes, reducing our environmental impact and lessening our involvement in the inequity of the global industrial food system.
"I don't have enough knowledge to start"
We know more about growing food now than ever before. We all carry the world's most extensive library of information on how to grow food on our smartphones. Better still, most of this information is in easily digestible 'how-to' video format. You can now condense the knowledge acquired by years of hard grift by our grandparents into a thirty-minute online tutorial. You can connect with local, national, and even international home food growing groups that offer instantaneous responses to just about any veggie patch-related question.
* Technology puts all the information we need at our finger tips.
You no longer need to 'know' anything as all the information you need is literally sitting in your hand. A simple 'Hey Siri' or 'Hey Google' is like having your grandparents co-gardening with you. Their vast knowledge and much more are only two words away. Sure, you will then get a constant stream of ads on what you asked about for the next six weeks, but I assure you there will be nothing you don't know about the topic by that time! About that 'life and times'.
"I can't afford to create a veggie patch"
Everyone's starting to feel the pinch financially. With interest rates rising in tandem with living cost increases, family budgets are as thin as they have been for over a decade, perhaps longer. Again, we need to review our priorities and perspectives. Wealthy people understand the value of an asset. It is how most of them become rich. An asset, in simple terms, is something you own or control that will have a future benefit and/or increased value. A home veggie patch is an asset that has multiple current and future benefits and, with ever-rising food prices, an increasing value.
* Can you afford NOT to have a veggie patch.
We can all find stupid ways to spend our money, and the world is designed to make this as easy as is humanly possible. If you prioritise having a veggie patch, you can make it happen. In its simplest terms, all it takes is a packet of seeds and a small pot of soil. As your new asset, it lessens the likelihood you will go hungry, lets you eat healthier food, creates a more sustainable lifestyle and secures your future food security. If food and fuel are the two main items driving rising living costs, we can simply help mollify food price rises with a home vegetable garden. I have never tried to make fuel from crude oil, but I would imagine that would be infinitely more difficult than planting seeds.
Perhaps the best way to ponder the economics of a home veggie patch is not just to consider what it will cost you to create one but what it could ultimately cost you if you don't create one?
"I'm too busy to start and maintain a veggie patch"
While we had significant budgetary constraints to consider before we built our vegetable garden, fitting it into our lives as parents of six kids and running a farm and multiple businesses was proving a real head-scratcher for us. Most mornings, we wake up and already feel as though we have way too much to do in a single day. How could we possibly find the time to have and maintain a huge vegetable garden on top of that? Well, why we couldn't say, 'Hey Siri, pull out the old tomato bushes for us', we could use other technology to reduce the 'hands-on' aspects of a home garden.
* Our personal priorities dictate what we can find time for.
On the surface, it can often seem that technology only impacts our lives negatively (Siri, are you still listening!?). Though now it is also beginning to offer us the 'time-saving' benefits that it has always promised but often not delivered. We use an automated irrigation system in our veggie patch, and we import organic soil that has been processed, so it is free of weeds. We use hygrometers to warn us of issues with heat and humidity and microscopes to review soil and plant health. All these things save us a considerable amount of time. Firstly, by taking entire jobs off our hands, and secondly, by reducing the time it takes to maintain the garden and fix issues and mistakes, often before they become more significant issues.
I don't want to garden as my grandfather did fifty years ago. I just don't have the time. I like to look to the future and think, how will we grow food in fifty years? If we take the best of the knowledge of the past and incorporate it with a new vision of the future, then a home veggie patch can become a natural part of our busy lives and times.
*Vegetable gardens of the future will be more abundant and efficient.
If we pay any attention to both life and nature, we can easily see that cycles are one of the most fundamental aspects of both. The rise and fall of tides, the seasons, birth and death, cycles govern every facet of our lives. Over the last eighty years, we have just experienced a cycle of the greatest period of growth, economic expansion and social stability in human history. We have no idea what the next decade or so will have in store for us all, but there is a growing perspective that we are well overdue for a downward cycle.
Therefore, perhaps our priority now should be in creating our own personal food insurance plans, like our grandparents had, but more specific to our lives and times.
About The Author
Terry Memory is the author of "The Smart Veggie Patch" which will be available through Pan Macmillan in July 2022. He lives with his wife Gemma, and their six kids live on a forty-acre organic farm in the Huon Valley in southern Tasmania, Australia. Terry and Gemma produce most of their food requirements for their family with a two hundred square meter Protected and Controlled Environment garden that also thermally heats their home. As a successful health food entrepreneur, Terry co-founded the 13 Seeds Hemp Food and Tasmanian Tea Companies on his farm. Terry is a passionate sustainability and self-sufficiency advocate with over twenty years of practical experience.
TAGS: Veggie Patch, Vegetable Garden, Raised Garden Beds, Growing Your Own Food, Self-Sufficiency, Sustainability, Homegrown, Homesteading, Off-Grid, Organic Food, Backyard Garden, Community Garden, Urban Garden