Written by Kathleen Duncan on March 30, 2020.
A plaque on my wall says, "Gardening – cheaper than therapy. AND you get a bouquet!" A garden can save you all kinds of money while helping you get outdoors for some rewarding exercise and therapy. The rewards of watching things grow from seed is wondrous and can be zen-like for some. I enjoy my moments of weeding, watering and harvesting before driving home in traffic from the community garden here on Fort Gordon. By the time I arrive home, I'm a calmer person for the time I've spent at the garden. Even more so when bringing home harvest from that relaxing work.
Those into "organic" foods know the cost of shopping organic can be pretty pricey at times. If you are really into the organic culture, it's known that "organic" can mean different things depending on who is marking the items for shopping or what country the product is grown in (see this CBS news webcast: www.cbsnews.com/news/what-does-the-organic-label-really-mean/ for additional information on the label "organic"). Just because it says "organically grown" doesn't mean some items don't contain chemicals such as pesticides or fertilizers. "Organically grown" can include synthetic pesticide or fertilizers too. The differences in being "organic" are what the USDA and the Organic Trade Association are still trying to address today. But to be absolutely positive you're receiving the best while they work on that, you can plant your own garden using organic and natural products. Best thing about it, your harvest will directly impact your grocery budget.
Take kale for instance – a large bag of "organically grown" kale at an organic market runs about $5-$6 dollars and around $4 at a discount store. The other option is to buy a packet of seeds for $1.67 to plant and KNOW it is organically grown. A packet of seeds should provide two 30 ft. rows of kale! That's a huge difference in price!
Starting a garden may seem like a huge transition. Luckily Fort Gordon has a community garden and a monthly garden club to help beginning gardeners. Start small with a few onions or potatoes. We even have classes and information on canning, freezing and dehydrating your harvest. Home canning and dehydrating is becoming another large growth consumer area because YOU control the "organic" factor of your end product. Do you have your grandma's spaghetti sauce recipe? Imagine making one big batch and canning quarts for later. You don't need "store bought" sauce when you have home canned sauce in your pantry! What would you save and how much better would it taste made from scratch with home grown tomatoes and herbs from your own garden?
Research has shown community gardens help individuals and families connect, reduce stress, increase physical activity, share quality time in the outdoors, improve nutrition and even save up to $1000 per year on grocery expenses. So why aren't you gardening yet?
Information for Fort Gordon Community Garden plots or garden club can be answered at 706-791-9483.
Find information about the Fort Gordon Community Garden at gordon.armymwr.com/community-garden.