Achieving a healthy lifestyle is never easy.
Experts say cooking for yourself, eating right and exercising can lead to a more fulfilling life.
However, there are other ways to experience true nutrition: Growing the food yourself.
Bakersfield Life spoke with individuals involved with Edible Gardens around Bakersfield to understand the benefits of creating your own garden in your own space.
“Fresh food and nutritious is good … in the long run,” said Dylan Wilson, the program manager of the Edible Schoolyard in Kern County. “It’s really simple to do.”
These gardens are planted with the sole purpose of harvesting and preparing the items for consumption, said Suzanne Tangeman, the department chair of family and community engagement at Bakersfield College.
The Grimmway Family Education Fund provided grants to the Edible Schoolyard Kern County, which then created gardens at Buena Vista Elementary School, Arvin and Shafter. Furthermore, BC and Cal State Bakersfield unveiled land devoted to this endeavor in 2021.
Students, from preschool to sixth grade, experience growing their own food and then preparing meals from the fruits — and vegetables — of their labor. The kids learn about the seeds and picking the produce.
Vegetables and fruits’ nutritional value will be instilled in the students as well, Wilson said.
“By getting them engaged in the experience, they are 100 percent more likely to try it,” Wilson added.
Bella Mirassou, a kitchen educator at the Buena Vista Edible Schoolyard, said she loves when kids whine about the healthy food — yet go back for seconds and thirds.
“There’s a food literacy component to what we’re doing,” Wilson added. “So we teach students … how (food) is grown, how you can eat it, prepare it. You can make it not only nutritious, but also delicious.”
BENEFITS OF GROWING YOUR FOOD
The closer your food travels from the fresh soil to your table, the better, experts said. Buying your carrots from a grocery store means the produce has traveled many miles in trucks and trains before it’s used in one’s cooking.
Therefore, there are many methods to ensure your food is the freshest possible.
Soil, seeds, sunshine and water are all you need to create a bountiful feast within your space, said Tangeman said.
Tangeman added gardening outside adds to your own health because your body absorbs sunlight.
However, many Bakersfield residents may experience failure growing produce in their backyard. Emilie Crown, Buena Vista Edible Schoolyard garden educator, said the soil may have previous contaminants, which can stymie the produce’s growth. Furthermore, not having prior knowledge about the plant also contributes to its downfall — seasonal vegetables only flourish in certain conditions.
The U.S. Department of Agriculture and Farmer’s Almanac offer online tips to grow your own vegetables, and ensure a plentiful bounty. The type of soil, water and sunshine needed is also revealed within those databases.
Crown also recommends filling a bucket with potting mix bought from Home Depot or Lowe’s and using already grown plants, or transplants.
Many readers may not have the luxury of a spacious garden. But even those people can experience fresh produce by growing herbs. Crown said these plants can withstand the cold, if they are stored in a covered place.
Furthermore, people growing their own vegetables should practice crop rotation. The produce will contain the most nutrients.
You can reach Ishani Desai at 661-395-7417. You can also follow her at @idesai98 on Twitter.