[vc_row][vc_column][vc_column_text]As a new year begins, it’s only natural for people to start thinking of all the ways to improve their health and their lives. This is the time of self-help books and resolutions. Self-help is an idea many Texans are drawn to. Independence, self-reliance, and the ability to “pull yourself up by your bootstraps” are all important parts of the identity of this great state and its people. However, there are times when creating a healthier life can be a struggle. With that in mind, and with spring just around the corner, here are five reasons why gardening can help you be more self-reliant while working toward your healthy goals for this new year.

1. Healthier Food

The desire to provide food for one’s family is necessary regardless of income level. Gardening can help you provide for yourself and your family without breaking the bank at the grocery store. Growing all the food a person needs can take from 2-10 acres depending on an individual’s diet. Few people living in the city can grow enough to provide for all their food needs, but everyone can grow some. Feelings of food security, or the idea that you know where your next meal will come from, grow stronger when you realize you can grow our own. A container garden full of lettuce or herbs is a simple way to add healthy food to your day. Plus, if you grow it, you don’t have to rely on a local store to have what you need.

2. Simple Exercise

Taking care of a garden can also help you get more movement. The current recommendation is to get at least 30 minutes of moderate physical activity each day. Watering, weeding and planting a small garden is a perfect way to get moving! The exercise from gardening can help you be healthier while reducing the need to rely on gym memberships and even some medical care.

3. Better Nutrition

Vegetables and fruits that are grown locally are an excellent way to add quality nutrients like fiber and vitamins into your meals. Plan to fill at least half of your plate with fruits and vegetables. Eating a rainbow of colors and working outside in the sunshine help to give your body the nutrients it relies on to stay healthy. Therefore, growing your own produce can help increase the variety of colors you eat.

4. Reduces Stress

Being in a garden is a great way to reduce stress. Views of nature and physical activity are known to have important health benefits such as reducing cortisol and decreasing symptoms of depression. Lowering stress through gardening can help reduce the need to rely on more expensive stress relievers while increasing health and productivity.

5. Low-cost Entertainment

Finally, gardening is a fun hobby and form of entertainment. Growing food can involve all members of the family, and there is always something new to learn or try, so it never grows old. Libraries, classes and online lessons are great resources to learn new skills at no cost. Neighbors and friends often garden together to share seeds, harvest and conversation. Starting a small garden or joining a community garden can provide ways to have fun without relying on other costly activities. Reducing extra expenses can help with efforts toward greater financial independence.

How to Get Started

Fortunately, in addition to priding themselves on self-reliance, Texans also pride themselves on being good neighbors. This is good news for anyone who has encountered a few struggles in achieving better health. Tarrant Area Food Bank exists because Texans want to be good neighbors that lift each other up; providing food and resources to support the worthy efforts of individuals who are creating healthier lives. The gardens at TAFB create a space where people can enjoy learning new garden skills while growing food to share. We hope you’ll join us to learn more about gardening and volunteer with us in our gardens.[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row]

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