Why you need a Kitchen garden during and post COVID-19
Apart from growing your foods safely, there are many benefits of growing a kitchen garden. Also known as a survival garden, it involves growing vegetables at home. This can be in your field, backyard, rooftop or balcony in case of urban farming where space is small. They are beneficial during crisis periods like war and the current COVID-19 pandemic.
Related: Advantages of urban farming
You do not need a kitchen garden on crisis periods only. In this article, we outline 9 benefits of growing vegetables at home. These include raising food safely free of chemicals, saving and making money and doing it as a hobby or fun activity among others. Use your free time during the COVID-19 lockdown to set one. Maintain it beyond the lifting social distancing measures to enjoy its benefits long after the crisis.
Many crises lead to hunger. This arises from transport challenges causing delays. The crisis may be war, plague, floods or earthquakes cutting contact between farmers and their consumers. Low supply of labour and capital on farms cause poor yields. As a result, there is an inflation of food prices.
You can cushion your loved ones from hunger by growing a survival garden. Plant fast-maturing crops like kales you can harvest in 30, 45 or 90 days. Observe good agricultural practices such as staggered planting and mixed cropping to ensure the sustainability of food supply throughout the year.
Incidences of food contamination are on the rise. The contaminants may be pathogens, chemical residues or dirt. These are introduced by unhygienic growing, handling and distribution of food. As a result, there are many cases of infections and deaths after eating harmful foods. You can avoid this by growing your own.
Growing your food at home can eliminate the above harm. You are in control, making sure it is hygienic and safe. Growing it organically eliminates the use of farm chemical fertilizers and pesticides. This improves food safety and the health of your family.
Profitable businesses thrive by solving social problems for a profit. You can make money by selling excess harvests from your kitchen garden to friends. Besides, you can serve unmet demand in high-value niches like home-grown organic greens. For convenience, set up an online store to reach for your potential consumers. Couple this with door-step deliveries
Other business ideas in kitchen gardening include; distributing information. Supplying farm inputs and marketing farmers’ produce.
You can improve your kitchen garden into an intensive commercial urban farm. Farming neighbours can set up a growers’ association or a cooperative to enjoy the economies of scale.
Food is a huge financial burden among many families. For instance, an average Kenyan household spends 45 per cent of their budget on food. This is the second-highest cost of food in Africa after Nigeria. The high costs arise from long value chains with many middlemen between farmer and consumers. Other factors include taxation and inflation in fuel, pesticides, and other farm input prices.
Growing your own food cuts the cost of the food budget. You can grow a variety of fresh greens and fruits on your property. Options of food products you can grow include, African leafy vegetables like amaranth and exotic herbs and spices such as rosemary and chives. By growing your own food, you will be independent of expensive food products in fresh farmer markets.
Caloric and nutritional Variety.
Access to quality food is a big challenge. This is true for both rich and poor. Intake of fast foods and processed products have aggravated lifestyle diseases like cancer, obesity and diabetes. Malnutrition is high among poor families who cannot afford nutritious foods. Their intake of proteins and vitamins is poor as they allocate their little income to cheap staple meals.
A kitchen garden is a rich source of nutritious foods. You can grow many crops including herbs and spices like chives for essential vitamins and proteins. You can diversity into micro greens, sprouts and young vegies like baby spinach. There is a variety of recipes you can use to prepare them including raw salads, extracted herbal teas, cooked or added to soups.
Crises affect our mental health negatively. This is worse during COVID-19 lockdown, because of constant worry and uncertainty. With the free time at your disposal, start your survival garden as a hobby.
Farming is therapeutic and a great way to connect with nature. It is fulfilling, in dirtying your hands and grow tasty vegetables and fruits. Tending to your crops is a perfect distraction from worries of life. It is also rewarding as you can set goals, work towards them and celebrate after achieving them.
The distance between food growers and consumers is widening. The Average distance that food product travels is over 1500 miles from field to fork in America. During transit, over 40 per cent of the food harvested will spoil before consumption. In addition, shipping food emits tonnes of greenhouse gases depleting our natural environs.
Growing a survival garden is an eco-friendly food production method. It cuts on greenhouse gases by reducing travel time and food spoilage. Other benefits include the use of organic waste materials like manure and foliage. Urban farming helps in recycling plastic bags and cartons in container gardens. When you grow crops in lawns, it adds life and aesthetic beauty to your surroundings.
Urban unemployment is a key social challenge in most cities. This is worse among vulnerable social groups like women, youth and emigrants in informal settlements. Putting food on their tables is hard given they have limited means to generate income.
NGOs, faith-based, and community organisations can facilitate in setting up of community urban farms. In the social program, the beneficiaries provide labour for cheap food and wages.
Educating Young Ones
Through observation and participation, One can learn many skills in gardening. Establishing one is the best way of teaching your kids about land preparation, crop management and food preservation. Besides, it is a way of getting free labor from them.
Growing an agri-COVID vegetable garden is a great indoor and outdoor fun and learning activity for kids of any age. They will appreciate aspects of food production, distribution and food waste. Besides, it a good way to teach sustainability, eco-friendly production and animal welfare.
There are many benefits of growing a survival garden. You can start it up on a balcony, indoors or open field. As most people are staying at home during the COVID-19 pandemic, it’s a rewarding hobby to start now. To be effective in establishing and maintaining one, our quick start guide to start one may be beneficial.