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Natural Awakenings NYC & Long Island

Teen Voices: 10 Reasons to Start a Backyard Garden

By Nick Cinque

In the suburbs of Long Island, there is plenty of potential for someone to start their very own home vegetable and/or fruit garden. Lots of people already have gardens and reap their many benefits. Here are 10 reasons to consider starting a garden today.

(1) Organic Produce 

One of the biggest reasons people start vegetable and/or fruit gardens is the fresh organic produce. With a garden, you know where your food is coming from and what’s on it—or, more importantly, what’s not on it. Many people choose to garden because it provides them control over how their food is grown

(2) Fresher Food

There’s a good chance that produce at the local grocery store may not be ripe yet or may be damaged from shipping. Many crops are picked too early, and by the time they’re sold, they aren’t as fresh as homegrown. Think of lettuce picked from a garden 30 minutes ago versus lettuce that’s been packed and sitting on a grocery shelf for some time. Home gardening solves this problem, essentially guaranteeing produce harvested at its peak ripeness. 

(3) Better Taste 

Food from a garden tastes so much better than its store-bought commercialized competition. Produce from stores is harvested weeks prior and forced to ripen in the box, which has a significant impact on taste. The superior taste of fruits and vegetables picked off the plant are so recognized it has sparked a revolution in the restaurant industry with the farm-to-table trend. Many of us can attest to the taste difference of a warm, fresh tomato picked off the plant with a sprinkle of salt.

(4) Cost Savings

After the startup costs, a home garden saves money! There are many ways to increase those savings, such as starting seeds instead of buying plants, and composting instead of buying soil. It’s possible to lower a produce bill significantly or completely eliminate it, depending on the yield. A garden can save someone anywhere from $100 all the way up to $1,000. 

(5) Recycling

With a garden, composting and reusing daily food waste and byproducts is essential. Banana peels, eggshells and coffee grounds are just a few of the items that can find a new home in a garden as compost. Compost makes great, dense, nutrient-rich soil that crops love. This all helps contribute to a no-waste environment. 

(6) Time Outside

In today’s world, when we’re using technology more and more in everyday life, a garden is a great escape. Doing basic maintenance in the garden can yield anywhere from half an hour all the way to a few hours off the phone or computer and spent outside. Other benefits associated with gardening are exercise and exposure to sunshine. From weeding to tilling, home gardeners will definitely burn a few calories working while boosting their vitamin D.

(7) The Rewarding Aspect

When it’s time to harvest crops, there’s a feeling of accomplishment that comes from turning a little seed into a fruit-bearing plant. The fruits of our labor are the ultimate rewards of gardening.

(8) Freedom of Choice

With a home garden, we’re in control and can decide what we want to grow. We’re free to experiment and try out new plants and potentially add new staples to our diet.

(9) Cleaner Food 

A recurring problem with store produce is the possibility of contamination. This problem happens more than most people think, with E. coli being a common bacteria found on store-bought fruits and veggies. 

(10) A Productive Hobby 

Gardening provides new skills in self-sustainability along with a respect for nature. Gardeners can learn from each other what crops perform well and share tips for higher yields. Gardening is a great introduction to many more agriculture-related hobbies, such as beekeeping and backyard chickens. 

Nicholas Cinque is a gardener, beekeeper and fisherman. He enjoys working in his garden, hiking, fishing and boating. He writes to inspire the youth to go outside more often and enjoy nature.

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