Why I Garden, by Samantha M. Finnegan-Liggio
Samantha M. Finnegan-Liggio
22 April 2014
Why I Garden
I garden for many reasons. I garden because it is cheaper to grow food than to buy it. I garden because I can help people through my gardening. I garden because it helps my health in more ways than one. I garden because I don’t want to support Monsanto. I garden for many reasons, but none of them is really the deciding reason. They all are equally important.
It’s a fact that it’s cheaper to grow most things than to buy them. For example, the cost of tomatoes in the produce section of conventional grocery chains reflect many things, including the costs of equipment used to sow and harvest them; the cost of chemicals used as weed killers, pesticides, and fertilizers, as well as their application; the cost of labor at the source; the cost of transportation to grocery chains; the cost of grocery workers wages; and are marked up even further still for a profit. Those tomatoes cost between $1.50 and $3.00 per pound (The price was noted from calls to the local branches of Weis, Redners, Sam’s Club, and Giant) For10¢ a seed, I have planted 25 tomato plants (8 Beefsteak, 5 Mortgage Lifter, 2 Yellow Currant, and 10 Amish paste, all of which have sprouted.) for a total cost of $2.50. They will produce an average of 12-20 pounds of tomatoes per plant (http://homeguides.sfgate.com/average-yield-tomato-plant-60969.html), which would put my total minimum average at 300 pounds, (Which is about 156 pounds of slicing tomatoes, 120 pounds of paste tomatoes, and 24 pounds of salad tomatoes) having been grown in a period of 180 days, or roughly 26 weeks (http://www.almanac.com/content/frost-chart-united-states/PA/Northampton) , at an average of 11 pounds per week. However, the tomato plants I am growing take an average of 75 days to mature and produce fruit, and so would be producing in 15 weeks an average of 20 pounds a week, which would cost $30 to match that rate when purchased at a grocery store. My total savings will amount to $447.50.
Take the above mentioned savings a step further, and think of the amount of good that can then be done at absolutely no cost. The average person consumes 22 pounds of tomatoes and tomato products in a year (http://www.fsa.usda.gov/FSA/kidsapp?area=home&subject=funf&topic=landing). That would mean that a family of three such as my own would consume 66 pounds of tomatoes in a year. That would leave 234 pounds of tomatoes left over. I intend to share my tomatoes with 6 people outside of my family, leaving 102 pounds of tomatoes left over if I were to provide enough tomatoes for them to eat for the whole year. However, I’ll only be providing about 2 months’ worth each, which would leave 212 pounds of tomatoes left over. If I can donate them to the Northampton Area Food Bank, they would be put to use among 400-450 families (http://www.northamptonareafoodbank.org/html/about_us.html).
Gardening for me isn’t just the financial aspect, it’s also about the health and ethics. By growing my own food, I can always have a healthy snack on hand. I can walk outside, and know where the food is coming from, and that no chemicals were used in their production, from start to finish, and that those chemicals won’t be going into my body. I don’t have to worry about the untested effects of genetically modified crops (Chapters 15-16, Food Safety Contaminants and Toxins, Edited by J.P.F D’Mello, CABI Publishing). I am looking after not only my physical health when I garden, but also my mental health. Gardening has been shown to reduce cortisol levels (http://greatist.com/happiness/garden-improve-mental-health#footnote-node-416-2) (http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/20522508), and it is well documented that stress reduction promotes a better overall health.
My stress is further reduced when I consider the fact that I am not supporting a near monopolized organization that has turned from a legitimate company into one that is not above using scare tactics (http://www.vanityfair.com/politics/features/2008/05/monsanto200805) to protect products that can cause major damage not only to the people consuming them (http://www.nationofchange.org/monsanto-s-roundup-linked-argentina-s-growing-health-problems-1382882609), but those whose livelihood has been, for generations, growing (http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-1082559/The-GM-genocide-Thousands-Indian-farmers-committing-suicide-using-genetically-modified-crops.html). I am glad to not be supporting a company that has been consistently against its customers knowing what they are buying (http://nsnbc.me/2013/10/31/monsanto-pepsi-nestle-millions-to-stop-washington-gmo-labeling-law/), and has not been above donating to campaigns (http://www.opensecrets.org/pacs/pacgot.php?cmte=C00042069), to influence voting on labeling laws. It is my personal belief that through my refusal to buy Monsanto Products, I can influence others to do the same, and together that we can make a difference. Many people are unaware of Monsanto and the influence they have on our daily lives, and I hope I can change that.
In conclusion, there are many reasons I choose to garden. I garden because it is far more cost effective to grow than to buy. I can help people through my gardening, and that is a major reason why I garden. Gardening is good for both my physical and mental health. I garden because I only want to support companies that are ethical in their practices. I believe that gardening makes me a better person overall, and so I choose to garden. Sometimes it is difficult, the weather won’t cooperate, insects decide that a garden is a better source of food than an agricultural monocrop field, and disease can run rampant. I may make mistakes, like in where I place my plants, what I plant near what, overwatering, etc. but in the end, I believe it’s worth it.