Nothing beats the satisfaction of growing your own fruits and vegetables at home, EXCEPT for being able to grow them year-round! You get high-quality, organic (maybe even heirloom) vegetables picked and consumed at their peak! But if you dig beyond the emotional connection of growing your own food, there is a bigger, more important matter at hand.
Think about the carbon emissions from produce that you purchase at the grocery store. It is usually a nameless variety of vegetable (what kind of broccoli is it anyway??), grown far from the market at which you pick it up. Maybe hundreds or even thousands of miles away. The greenhouse gasses to get it to the store and then to your home, add up quickly. Then consider the ecological devastation of the pesticides or poor soil and environmental practices of mega-commercial crop farms. Then think about the packaging (cardboard, plastics) used to get the produce to the store and, again, then to your home. Then consider that these large scale farms also generated the carbon emissions associated with the construction, maintenance, and heating of greenhouses and polytunnels. Oh, and don't forget about the emissions in the production, maintenance, and use of farming equipment. It adds up, doesn't it? You might look at a plastic-wrapped cucumber or a stickered orange differently now.
Well we need to eat, don't we? And we're supposed to eat fruits and vegetables, right? The reality is that these real needs don't exist in a bubble and they have a very real and concrete impact on the generation of greenhouse gasses and, subsequently, climate change. We're not even talking about the bees or GMOs at this point. What better way to counteract or at least off-set our carbon footprint through growing our own food? Think about how much you will cut down on the environmental impact of your diet. You may be thinking "well, that's good and all, but even home gardening has an impact." True. By being a consumer the materials required to construct beds or polytunnels, you are also contributing to carbon dioxide emissions. Of course, the more you grow and the less you buy, the greater the benefit to the environment. Hence, year-round gardening will potentially have the greatest benefit. You also want to try to use and maintain high-quality materials that are going to have the greatest lifespan.
Please watch the enlightening and informative YouTube video below, which gives an example of crunching the numbers for you.
Long story short- get growing and don't forget that every little bit counts.
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A zone 8a gardening enthusiast!