#BeTheChange: Edible Home Gardens

View Profile A picture of a hand holding a basket of vegetables with the caption:

Have you ever tasted a tomato, fresh off the vine, deep red and still warm from the summer sun? I reminisce about those tomatoes as I bite into the crunchy, early spring variety that I bought at the grocery store. Where did that crunchy tomato with pale pink insides come from? Probably from a greenhouse down the highway or maybe somewhere further. Trucked into my town so that those fortunate enough to afford off-season fruits and vegetables can still ‘enjoy’ a toasted tomato sandwich when there’s snow on the ground. But the good news is…spring has returned to Canada, and we can start to make the most of our precious growing season!

Picture of a vegetable and herb garden

Aside from the obvious flavour advantage, growing your own food has a positive impact on climate change by reducing your carbon footprint. Food grown at home doesn’t have far to travel to make it on to your plate. And if you want to level-up the positive ecological impact and potentially your garden yield…compost is the way to go. If you live in the city, your compostables are likely collected by the municipality. But if you have the space, composting recycles nutrients and nurtures the soil.

When I moved into my house many years ago, I was fortunate enough to have unknowingly inherited an established herb garden with a variety of perennial plants that (with a little pruning) continue to produce each year. Herbs like oregano, thyme, sage, chives, and mint will keep coming back every spring. And I’ve noticed a huge bonus with these plants – if you let them flower, they attract a myriad of pollinators throughout the season.

The eager beavers among us (like those in my family) likely started growing their seeds months ago…patiently watering, providing appropriate lighting, and waiting for the temperature to rise so they can get those tender plants into the ground. But if you haven’t started seeds already, not to worry! You can still grow your own food. Many vegetable seeds can be sown directly into the ground in the spring and yield a harvest in the summer and fall (like carrots, squash, and beans). Or you can also buy ready-to-go plants at your local nursery (or almost anywhere…usually by June most commercial parking lots house some form of garden centre) and put those directly into your garden. Also, did you know you can grow your own garlic from a bulb you buy at the store?! Break that baby into individual cloves, push ‘em into the ground in the fall, and by the next summer each clove will have grown into a whole new bulb! And as if that weren’t enough, in early summer, you can cut the tops off the growing plants and have a lovely meal of garlic scapes.

A picture of flowering vegetables

The pandemic changed a lot of things, including our collective desire to grow our own food. A study out of the Agri-Food Analytics Lab at Dalhousie University reported that in 2020, more than half (51%) of the respondents grew at least one fruit or vegetable in a garden, 17.4% of those began growing food at home that very year. And of those new gardeners, 67% indicated that the pandemic motivated them to start growing their own food. Maybe you’re one of these people, or maybe, like me, you were born into a family of home gardeners and stumbled into a couple raised beds and an herb garden when you moved into a new house and were basically obligated to carry on the tradition. Or maybe you have a balcony garden, or a rented plot in a community garden. Or maybe you’ve never grown anything before, but recently you’ve been curious and waiting for a sign to get started. Maybe this is that sign.

At RVA, we believe that climate action not only relies on what our organization does, but on the individual choices we make each and every day. Our #BeTheChange stories seek to inform, challenge, and inspire people to learn about the impacts of climate change, and empower them to take make responsible choices at home and at work. By increasing climate literacy and promoting a culture of sustainability within our firm and beyond, we can help drive collective action at the scale required to facilitate the transition to a low-carbon future.