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Grow-Your-Own support project launched in Essex

If you would like to grow your own fruit or veg but are not quite sure how to get started and would like a little bit of ongoing help and support, this grow-your-own support project might be just what you are looking for if you live in Essex and are complete beginners.

Families can choose what fruit or vegetables they wish to grow this season and place an order with Karen Kingsbury aka The Natural Essex Girl, who will provide ongoing support.

But even if you live elsewhere, do carry on reading as Karen provides lots of advice and information in this article…

What are some of the key benefits of growing your own food?

There are so many wonderful benefits to growing your own at home. Most people start because they want their children to understand where food comes from or perhaps because they want to encourage outdoor play. Whilst these are two excellent benefits, there are tons more.

Some of these include:

  • Avoiding unnecessary plastic packaging at the supermarket
  • Saving money on your grocery bills
  • Spending more time in nature
  • Gentle outdoor exercise
  • Avoiding nasty pesticides

The benefits of growing your own food are pretty endless. Here are just 13 Benefits of Growing Your Own Food

Why is growing food Important?

Most of us have been raised in a time where we don’t need to understand where food comes from, how it reaches us, or what’s in it. Whilst there are many positives to modern living, there are also some problems with it too.

Being disconnected from nature in this way can cause many mental and physical illnesses, some fairly minor and others far more serious.

Some examples of deficits that can occur include:

  • Lack of movement and exercise
  • Lack of vitamin D and other vital nutrients
  • Lack of connection with outdoor spaces

In addition, it is important to grow food, or at least learn a little about it, to really appreciate and understand the importance of organic, natural products that have been grown in nature and absorbed all the nutrients our bodies need.

It also helps us to understand the importance of local and seasonal food, which in turn might help us to decrease demand for food that’s been shipped around the world, reducing our individual carbon footprint and helping to reduce the need for preservatives in food.

Children and growing food

For children, growing food at home is important to encourage an excellent relationship with food, with the outdoors, and with the seasons. Some parents might even find growing food at home helps their child to enjoy a wider variety of fruits and vegetables, which helps to better support strong and healthy immunity.

Karen has grown food with children of all ages in her family, from toddlers to teens, and reports that it often sparks fascinating and interesting changes in them. Some of the changes she has seen include:

  • A greater interest in food
  • Joy in playing outdoors
  • A willingness to try vegetables they might not have otherwise
  • A greater interest in bugs and the soil
  • Joy in cooking and baking with garden ingredients

Nature deficit syndrome is also a grave and serious concern for our young people and Karen believes growing food at home can help families with this too.

Growing food and the environment

Growing food at home is an excellent way to help support the environment, both locally and on a larger scale too. In fact, it does this in so many ways!

Not only does growing food at home help to reduce single-use plastic waste and your family’s carbon footprint, it also encourages us to have a better relationship with nature and the outdoors.

It’s basically impossible to ‘grow-your-own’ and not appreciate the importance of clean water, clean soil, not littering, avoiding ground contamination, and respecting nature’s wild animals. Gardening at home, and growing your own food specifically, teaches multiple lessons to both adults and children; lessons that are so important for us all to become more sustainable citizens, now and in the future.

Many people now realise that eating a wholefood plant-based diet is also the best option for our health and for the environment, so if growing your own fruit and veg helps you to enjoy more veggie meals and reduce the amount of meat you are eating, that’s an added bonus for you and the planet!

Reducing single-use plastic

Karen is passionate about the environment and all there is still to learn about respecting it and working with Mother Nature for a healthier future. For this reason, she decided to only use upcycled pots with her plants, so when you purchase Grow-Your-Own plants from her, no demand has been raised for new single-use plastic.

She also has a Small Pot Return Scheme too which helps to reduce single-use plastic waste even further. You can simply return your pots to her where they will be cleaned and reused the following season, helping to avoid waste and keep unnecessary plastic from landfill.

I’d love to have a go but I have no clue where to start!

Growing food is a game of trial and error. Most weathered gardeners and farmers will agree. Karen says:

‘What you learn in one season helps you produce a better crop the following season – so there really are no mistakes.’

Whilst some people are comfortable with winging it and risk-taking, others might prefer to learn in a methodical and supportive way. Karen wanted to make growing your own food as accessible as possible for both types of people which is why she has launched her new grow-your-own support project.

If you’re not sure about just giving it a go and hoping for the best, The Natural Essex Girl provides a simple Grow-Your-Own plants service with ample online support. By sowing the seeds at her home, Karen takes care of any timing concerns you may have, using her years of growing food knowledge to plant the seeds at the right time for germination to occur.

How the Grow-Your-Own project engages with children

She also sends Growing Up-dates to children which are short video instalments that track the progress of your child’s seedling, helping them to feel more connected to the process. So far, these have proven to be the most popular part of the service, engaging little ones in the end-to-end process, regardless of the growing space they have at home or the confidence their grown-ups have.

Karen continues to raise the seed you choose to small plants and then delivers them when they are ready to be transplanted to your garden or pots. She also has a wealth of practical and simple-to-follow resources online to help complete beginners make the most of their plants once they take them home. This includes information on how to safely transplant them, taking care of your plant, and how to harvest from it safely.

How can I start growing food this year?

It is easier than ever to start growing food at home. You’ll find ample support online. If however, you are looking for continued support and advice along the way, take a look at Karen’s Grow-Your-Own Support Project plants page for more information and to place an order.

She’s happy to answer any questions you may have about getting going, can source all kinds of exciting local fruits and vegetables including ‘rainbow veg’, and supports local merchants and growers in her supply chain too. You even receive free carrot seed with every order you make at thenaturalessexgirl.com

Happy Growing Gardeners!

All pictures provided by The Natural Essex Girl

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