Growing your own fruit and vegetables is good for the environment and, during these times of isolation, it’s good for the soul as well, says Jennifer Hawkes of Wanstead Climate Action
Grow Your Own, Dig for Victory! These ideas have been around for a long time and have played their part in our shared history. But, as I’m sitting here in self-isolation with the sun streaming through my windows, I’m struck by how much the idea of sowing seeds and growing food at home has to offer us at this point in history when we are facing a climate crisis, a deluge of plastic waste, a global pandemic and extreme isolation.
The simple act of sowing seeds and growing food has its part to play in supporting individuals, communities and society to grow hope in the midst of these crises.
As we face growing levels of carbon emissions, growing your own can reduce the carbon footprint of your fruit plate to almost zero. According to Mike Berners-Lee, in his book How Bad are Bananas, a garden-grown apple has a carbon footprint of zero, compared to 10g of greenhouse gasses caused by one locally grown apple and 150g per apple for those New Zealand apples sold in our local supermarkets. British grown strawberries have less than a tenth of the greenhouse gas emissions of their imported counterparts, and garden-grown strawberries again have none.
Even growing a small amount of your own fruit and veg can reduce your family’s carbon footprint significantly.
Pre-washed and packaged salad bags are a convenience food that has taken over vegetable shelves. Each bag is linked to 3g of greenhouse gas emissions, as well as the pollution of our soils and oceans. There is no good way to dispose of plastic bags but we can use less of them! Growing your own lettuce leaves, rocket, herbs and salad is an easy first step into the world of growing your own. And, with each harvest you enjoy, you reduce your plastic footprint.
Growing fruit and vegetables is also good for the soul. In this time of isolation, growing plants provides a routine of tending, watering, harvesting and preparing. It gives individuals and families an opportunity to get outside and enjoy sunshine, exercise and activity. A glut of produce can be shared with neighbours and friends. Conversations can be had at safe distances over allotment boundaries or garden walls.
If you’re tempted to try growing your own for the first time, some easy starter vegetables are salad leaves, cherry tomatoes, courgettes or runner beans. All of these can be grown in containers on a sunny balcony or in a cleared part of a garden.
Give it a go and enjoy the benefits to you, your family and our larger world.