We at Appalachian Sustainable Development held our first Grow Your Own program workshop on Tuesday, February 23. We had a great turnout and talked about participants’ gardening goals. People seem very engaged and determined to grow healthy food in their own backyards.

One of the most common goals we heard was to consume healthier food. One participant’s husband is diabetic (me too!) and she talked about the high cost of food at the grocery store. As a diabetic, it’s very difficult to eat what I would call a college diet – things like macaroni and pasta. These are go-to foods when on a budget, but for a diabetic these foods are also dangerous. This participants wants to be able to make her own zucchini noodles so she and her husband can live healthy, happy lives.

Another goal that was raised is exposing kids to gardening. We know the health benefits of eating vegetables, especially fresh from the garden vegetables, but the other health benefits we see are astounding. Simply being around greenspace helps with mood. It reduces aggression and increases feelings of wellbeing. Touching soil can increase your serotonin levels thanks to a specific soil bacteria. Increased serotonin is linked to increased happiness and a strong immune system. Learning to care for plants at a young age also helps kids appreciate nature and grow into caring adults.

We are so excited to help people interested in sustainable, healthy food systems!

This is going to be a fantastic growing season!