What if you could reduce the number of hours you worked while also bringing a little sustainability into your life? Establishing a garden that feeds you and your family can be the key to that freedom

Gardening is a hobby that gifts you mental and physical health benefits, gives back to the planet and soil, while also being an activity where you can get a little return on your investment. Whether you’re starting small, or looking to expand your yard into a garden, you can see a tremendous impact on your finances through gardening. This will allow you to spend more of your time outside in your garden doing what you love while being surrounded by your friends and family.

There are plenty of other benefits to gardening, all of which help us to reevaluate the way we spend our time and money...

Helps save money on groceries

The most obvious financial benefit to having a garden is that we save money on groceries. Even taking into consideration the initial cost of setting up a garden (around $70 to $100 or less if you use repurposed or salvaged materials), there are still immediate savings. Once you have your garden established and learn to save or swap seeds with others, there is a low-maintenance “cost” year after year. According to a study by the National Gardening Association (NGA), an average plot provides an estimated 300 pounds of fresh produce worth $600, although for some it can be more if planned and planted efficiently.

Gardening outdoors is limited depending on your growing zone, but you’ll become a pro at growing storage vegetables that will last the winter, or learn to can, ferment, freeze and dehydrate your garden goods. You can also try to extend your gardening season with cold frames, row covers and greenhouses.

Cuts down on lawn maintenance

Transforming your yard into a garden sounds like a lot of initial work, but in the long run it will replace similar yard-maintenance time with plants that actually give back. Maintaining a lawn consumes many of our summer weekends with only aesthetics to show for it. Edible landscapes and gardens are also extremely aesthetic, but give back to the people and planet too.

Along with feeding the soil life, replacing our ornamental yards with fruit trees, shrubs, native flowers, herbs and veggies will also help feed our local pollinators. Once you get a look at your new landscape, you definitely won’t miss the look (or mowing) of the lawn.

Check your city bylaws and property lines before planting anything in your front yard so that you don’t risk losing your plants.

family in gardenPhoto by Surya Prakash on UnsplashEliminates the need for gym workouts

Physical health is incredibly important to our well-being. Where winter is a great time to workout indoors, we’re meant to be moving and connecting outside in the warmer months. Garden maintenance work can vary from light movements to heavy lifting through a full range of motion, which will keep us agile and mobile for longer. Gardening helps our bodies move in a way that is therapeutic rather than punitive and invites a social element when friends and family join in on the fun. Plus, this group “workout” doesn’t cost a membership.

Invites us to trade or barter with others

Even with gardening, there are going to be food items or other goods that you’ll need to purchase. A great way to save money on some of those things is to barter or trade your garden excess. You can get friends, family or local businesses in on the fun and swap some of your tomatoes for home repairs, an artisan good, or another produce item you haven’t grown. It’s a fun way to share the fruits of your labour without the exchange of money.

Makes life a social event

Although gardening is still “work”, it’s an investment of time that is collaborative rather than isolating. Ask your friends and family for help as you’re establishing your garden and return the favour in their gardens—or share your garden abundance as “payment”. Gardening is a great way to connect with like-minded people and participate in an activity together that doesn’t involve sitting or spending at a bar or restaurant.

Gardening can also bring parents and children closer together through this newfound recreational activity. Kids will learn valuable life skills and gain an appreciation for their environment and the way their food is grown, while also spending quality time with their parents.

Your garden doesn’t have to be huge to make an impact; most garden sizes are around 600 square feet and help folks save hundreds to thousands of dollars. A life spent gardening and growing is a slower-paced, alternative lifestyle to the current way of living. It’s a reinvention of what it means to work: less buying and consuming and more time spent outside and eating good food with our loved ones.

It isn’t easy to go against the grain, but if having more time at home is something you’re yearning for, growing more of your own food may be the answer. It will give back more than the financial savings; it will get you back to your roots.