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Why America Needs Small Kitchen Gardens

April 16, 2012

At my home, we started peppers and cucumbers in pots nearly a month ago.  Then, a week ago, I finally got our little plot tilled up.  These two events started me thinking about the benefits of gardening.  At first, my thoughts were restricted to the benefits to my own home and family.  However, as I continued to think, I realized gardening has played a significant role in our nation’s history, and can still provide great benefits today.

Kitchen Gardens in America’s history

America, from its foundation, has been a farming society.  Gardens were absolutely necessary to the survival of the pilgrims.  The Plymouth colony almost died before figuring out how to garden successfully.  America’s founders spent long hours in the fields just to provide the food they needed.  It wasn’t a hobby or pastime, it was a priority.

However, the benefits provided by the family garden were far more than just food.  We can enjoy many of the same benefits today.

Small kitchen gardens provide many learning experiences

If you are interested in the education of your child, a kitchen garden provides numerous teachable moments.  I still remember the first time my Mom showed me the withered “seed” from which a potato plant grew.  She carefully explained to me how the “seed” was used up in the creation of the plant, and how the sacrifice of a small portion of a potato could bring great results.

Other things you can teach in your garden include responsibility, perseverance,  and math skills.  I remember the first time my parents gave me a small section of the family garden as my own.  I remember the work that it took to plant and maintain.  I remember the pride that came from keeping it neat and clean, and the disgrace that came if I failed to keep it up.  Planning a kitchen garden will give many opportunities to use math, whether calculating the area needed for a certain number of plants or figuring out when you can expect to harvest.

If you make efforts to preserve your produce, this can be a teaching tool too.  It is amazing how many people know nothing about cooking “from scratch” or canning.

Health benefits from maintaining a kitchen garden

The first, and most obvious benefit of a thriving garden is the produce.  Fresh vegetables are an important part of a healthy diet.

The second health benefit from maintaining a garden is the exercise.  Someone who thinks there is no effort involved in maintaining a garden probably hasn’t done it.  Why pay to join a gym when you can get the same benefits in your garden?  Well, maybe not quite the same benefits, but you get the idea.

The third health benefit that I think of is simply time spent out-doors.  So many people spend all their time inside while working, then come home and sit in front of a computer or TV.  There are many reasons to spend time outside enjoying fresh air, sunshine, and perhaps even the occasional light rain.

Kitchen gardens can help build healthy families

In early American society, the garden was a central part of family life.  The children helped to pick rocks and drag branches while the parents cleared the area for plowing.  Dad would plow with the horses while the children came behind and planted.  Weeding and watering was a necessary daily task shared by the whole family.  Countless hours were spent working together.  I think those hours spent together could benefit a great many families today.

Gardening helps create young people with character

I already mentioned the first time my parents gave me part of our garden as my own.  This helped to teach me several things.  Things like responsibility and perseverance, good work ethic, the value of a good days work, the fulfillment in making (or growing) something for one’s self and even respect for personal property.  After working for hours and hours in my garden, I would have been very upset if someone had destroyed all my hard work.  This helped to create a sense of the value of things belonging to others.  I’m sure you can think of others.

Kitchen gardens are not exclusively for those who live in the suburbs or country

While a large garden may require a rural setting, it is surprising how much can be grown in pots on a windowsill or in a couple of window boxes.  It is a rare home indeed that has no windows and no exposure to sunlight.  This type of gardening requires different techniques, but still can be rewarding and provide many of the benefits of a rural garden.

Why America needs small kitchen gardens

For those who have read my ramblings in the past, this may seem a rather odd topic for me.  How do gardening and politics relate?  What does gardening have to do with the American political scene?

As we bemoan the inadequacies of the candidates for public office in our day, I find that a common ailment among politicians of our day is a lack of many of the strong character traits we can teach our children while gardening.  One of the reasons so many suffer from such a warped view of the family today is that they came from dysfunctional families themselves.

Since we can assume that our children will be the leaders and rulers of the future, the potential benefits to a large scale return to gardening could be staggering.  Whether my children have any interest in politics and government or not, I want them to have strong character to help them through life.

America needs small kitchen gardens because America needs men and women of character for this, and any other, time in our nations illustrious story.

Thank you for reading my deliberations,


For information on starting or maintaining your own kitchen garden, check out Your Small Kitchen Garden
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  1. Beginning again – Garden 2013 | deliberatingdave

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