Backyard Gardening: Benefits and MoreApr 07, 2022 12:00PM ● By Candice Stewart
Man standing by small scale garden/farm | Source: pexels
Many people say that they lack a green thumb and therefore steer clear of getting dirt under their nails by gardening, maintaining a few plants at home, or even farming. We’re here to tell you that it’s okay. Fixing a broken green thumb or assisting your thumbs to be evergreen is not difficult. All you need are the right tools, patience, and consistency to transform your backyard into a fruitful, ever-blossoming garden. Your local flower shops and agricultural stores can help you with that.
Though there are many ways you could get your nails dirty with soil, we want to highlight the route of backyard gardening! What is it, why is it beneficial, and how does gardening – or farming relate to the Black community? Let’s find out.
Simply put, a backyard garden is a garden in your backyard. To add context, it’s often referred to as ‘home gardening’ which includes growing fruits, vegetables, and herbs to feed your household or community. Some backyard gardens are solely for flowering plants as they’re not always for the purpose of feeding a family or community. Some provide refuge for birds and insects.
Having a backyard garden is important as it allows people to reduce their grocery lists and bills, and it helps in the reduction of the carbon footprint. In truth, the importance of backyard gardens ties into the benefits. Here are a few:
Benefits of having a backyard garden:
With a number of factors considered, medical professionals generally recommend about 100 minutes of exercise weekly due to the health benefits. Depending on the size of your garden and the contents of that garden, you will find yourself doing a light workout as you take care of your garden.
2. Vitamin D and Fresh Air
Who doesn’t like getting fresh air? Additionally, light and protected sun exposure provides the right amount of Vitamin D which helps in the prevention of illnesses such as osteoporosis and conditions such as depression
3. Cost-efficient and Food Security
Think about your grocery bill whenever you shop for food to serve your household. Some of those items can be grown at home. You’ll cut costs by a significant amount. Additionally, depending on the store to provide your food may not always be a good idea. What if the stores run out or the prices get unsustainably expensive? Having your own garden addresses that issue.
4. Good Eating
Growing your own food facilitates good and healthier eating. You’ll be able to monitor what you grow and what you eat more closely. Getting into the nutrition of it all will teach you about the foods rich in particular vitamins and minerals and how best to prepare and consume them.
5. Beneficial to the Earth
Your carbon footprint is expected to be reduced when you have your own organic backyard garden free from the use of chemical fertilizers. You can actually give back to the earth with the use of techniques that facilitate greenhouse gasses into the soil and not the air.
As a supplement, here’s some information from the Heart Foundation of Jamaica about easy-to-grow plants and herbs, the health benefits of having a backyard garden, and easy-to-follow steps to start your own.
How to Start a Backyard Garden
The folks at MasterClass have also provided 11 easy steps to follow in the creation of your backyard garden. They include:
- Determining your climate zone
- Deciding what you want to grow
- Choosing the ideal garden location
- Acquiring basic gardening tools
- Testing your soil
- Making the garden bed
- Deciding whether to grow from seeds or transplant seedlings
- Planting your plants or seedlings with care
- Considerations for water supply
- Use of mulch
- Maintaining your garden
The Black Community and Gardening
The New York Times reported that at the height of the COVID-19 pandemic surveys indicated an uptick in household Americans. Within the Black gardening community specifically, many saw it as the culmination of a movement that was growing for years.
Black gardeners started to turn to and return to traditions of sustenance, solidarity, and sanctuary. This they’ve done by finding a new sense of refuge in a traditional act of horticulture.
Monica M. White, author of Freedom Farmers: Agricultural Resistance and the Black Freedom Movement says, “Something has shifted and Black have embraced our relationship with agriculture.”
Black people and groups in gardening you may follow include Black Men with Gardens, Black Girls with Gardens, Black Sanctuary Gardens, and Black in the Garden among a few others.
Though this is cause for celebration as it relates to general home gardens done for household use, it must be highlighted that the most recent United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) farm census data reveals that in 2017, the United States Farms with Black or African American Producers per number of farms is less than 2% out of all farms. If the Black community wants to expand their reasons for celebration, encouraging more farmers to register for the census is a start. The next best thing is to encourage Black people to get into the space and improve representation.
As stated by the USDA, “the Census of Agriculture is a complete count of US farms and ranches and the people who operate them. Even small plots of land – whether rural or urban – growing fruit, vegetables or some food animals count if US$1000 or more of such products were raised and sold during the census year.”
The census is taken only once every 5 years and the next one occurs this year. In fact, June 30th is the last day to sign up for the 2022 Agriculture census.
Your Charge to Garden for Your Home…or Farm
Let’s leave you with this, consider starting a small backyard garden with one or two food items, see how you and how you benefit then make an informed decision of continuing or ceasing your efforts. The proof is in the pudding but you won’t see that proof until you go through the process of making it.
Till then, happy gardening.
Planting Power: Eight Great Benefits of Backyard Gardening – Pinetree Garden Seeds
7 Benefits of Gardening That Prove it Helps Your Mind and Body – Good Housekeeping
Black Gardeners Find Refuge in the Soil – The New York Times
How to Start a Backyard Garden: 11 Steps for New Gardeners – Master Class
Census of Agriculture - USDA
Read more from Candice Stewart:
Black solo traveler and full-time RVer, Alexis Chateau, says that representation is important to remind people that access to the great outdoors in the solo travel community is not exclus... Read More »