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Your Food Garden Can Help the Environment - Here's Why

Written by Amir Tajer

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Posted on July 21 2021

With the ever-rising cost of living and a broad desire to reconnect with nature, home gardens have never been more popular.

The majority of US homes have large lawns that need to be mowed, but more than a few homeowners are now putting those lawns to good use – growing food.

But does growing your own food really benefit the environment?

Food and the Environment

Plant sprout growing in the woods on a log

It's certainly no secret that the way we consume food in the United States results in a lot of food miles — essentially a measure of how far the food has come to get to your plate. This has an associated carbon cost.

However, it's not as simple as just measuring the distance your food has traveled to calculate the amount of carbon it has produced.

The way your food is produced also has an effect, with animal products usually having a higher carbon footprint for production than plant-based products.

In addition, intensive farming can result in an overall greater carbon footprint than food that has been less intensively farmed.

And even the way that food is transported can have a significant impact on the amount of carbon dioxide released.

A large container ship is a much more efficient method of transport than flying food by air.

So What Does This Mean For My Garden?

Strawberry plant in home garden

Realistically, food produced in a garden has a very low carbon footprint, because the food miles are virtually zero, and gardens are sources of seasonal items that grow in situ.

Most people don't have heated greenhouses, for example, so they produce and eat whatever food grows at that time of year.

Fertilizer use is usually low, but the well-timed use of soil improvers and fertilizers can result in a significant boost to your yield.

It's this focus on seasonality that really reduces carbon footprints.

While vegetable production is still a very minor source of carbon emissions, as noted by this Swedish study, the use of seasonal foods can make a difference.

It's More Than Carbon Footprints, However

small footprint on sand near shore

Biodiversity is a major watchword, and again, for good reason. Lawns are lovely to look at in many cases, but they are usually a monoculture — a single species.

As a result, they lack options for many insects and bugs that form the basis of the overall food chain.

And the borders that surround many lawns also often lack much usefulness for many insects, as they do not offer a hospitable environment.

Butterflies, moths, bees and other beneficial insects require a variety of plants, and the best way to get that variety is often to grow your own food.

You will lose some portion of it to various insects, but they get fed on by other animals higher up the food chain.

You may see more birds coming to your garden, hunting the insects that feed on your flowering broccoli, for example. A compost heap can really help with establishing beetle colonies, and you get lovely compost out of it.

You can also encourage pollinators such as bees with plants such as lavender, sunflowers and asters.

And making a home for them — assuming you don't have an allergy to bees — can be extremely useful if you want to collect your own honey.

So if you want to grow your own food, you'll reduce your carbon footprint and potentially attract a lot more wildlife to your garden. And if you want to give your garden a boost, check out out our range of specialty fertilizers formulated with high quality micronutrients that are safe for the environment, as well as our collection of organic fertilizers. 

 

 

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