Growing your own produce is a simple step you can take to help the planet, while improving your health and well-being and saving money. You will also enjoy the added reward of knowing you are helping build community resiliency and contributing to a more sustainable way of living. Here are 5 more reasons to start digging:
1. Reduce Carbon Emissions
Whether your garden consists of a few tomato plants or a large assortment of crops, any food that is produced locally will mean less of a carbon footprint from food truck miles travelled, large scale agricultural practices, excessive packaging and trips to the supermarket. In Australia, emissions from agriculture contribute around 13% of total greenhouse gas emissions each year, which is Australia’s fourth highest source of emissions (after electricity, stationary energy and transport). The majority of emissions are methane from livestock ('gas' released as a bi-product of digestion), with smaller volumes from other sources such as fertiliser. In Alice Springs, transport accounts for the highest share of emissions at 49%, followed by electricity (35%) and then agriculture (8%). Reducing our reliance on these industries by consuming more plant-based foods produced locally can help us cut back on emissions.
2. Build Greater Community Resiliency and Food Security
More locally produced food also means greater food security in the face of changing and more extreme weather patterns due to climate change. These issues are further compounded by other events such as the pandemic which impact global supply chains. As empty grocery store shelves are becoming a more frequent reality, having an alternative and local supply of fresh food helps to create greater community resiliency.
3. Save Money
Growing your own food is also better for your wallet. Particularly as we see dramatic increases in commodity and food prices, with a 27 percent increase in global food prices in 2021, which experts predict will continue to rise in 2022. With free food right at your doorstep, it's hard to beat the convenience and savings of having your own home-grown supply.
4. Enjoy Better Health
There are many proven health and well-being benefits to be gained from gardening. Research shows that as little as 5 minutes of digging in or even just looking at your garden, releases endorphins, increases serotonin in the brain and reduces stress levels. Gardening has been shown to be effective in many rehabilitation programs for people with severe illnesses or traumas, such as strokes, helping to improve motor, speech and cognitive skills. Digging, lifting and moving around the garden also provides exercise and a good dose of vitamin D that can benefit people of all ages and abilities.
5. Support Local Ecosystems
Having a garden helps support healthy local ecosystems. Cultivating a diversity of plants and flowers creates a haven for local wildlife, also attracting bees and other insects, important for pollination, pest control and encouraging native habitats. Your garden can also be a creative outlet as you create an aesthetically pleasing environment in which to relax and enjoy your garden community.
Building a garden doesn’t require a lot of space - whether you create garden beds or use simple pots or planter boxes, there are many unique and creative ways to incorporate edible gardening into your landscape. With a bit of research, you can figure out what way works best for you.
For more inspiration and to help get your edible garden growing, check out our latest YouTube video with 10 helpful gardening tips for beginners based on principles of permaculture. You'll also learn about our two community gardens, where locals can connect with others to grow food while having fun and getting some hands-on learning.
For even more tips and information on gardening in an arid environment check out our free Alice Springs Veggie Companion.