We’ve discussed a few sustainability topics this spring and summer, and one topic that is near and dear to our hearts here at the Arboretum is eating sustainably. Not only is this practice healthy for the planet, but it is healthy for you and your family, too!
Much of the food we find in grocery stores is highly processed and grown using pesticides, hormones, and antibiotics. Some of it has been irradiated, waxed, or gassed. These practices may have negative effects on human health. In contrast, growing your own fruits and vegetables allows you to grow the most nutritious produce possible by using sustainable practices. (https://cuesa.org)
Our square foot garden outside the Stackhouse Education Center here at the Arboretum is providing a hands-on approach to teaching children about the benefits of growing and eating organic homegrown fruits and vegetables. Our Let’s Get Growing! program is taught by Reeves-Reed Arboretum Educator and Square Foot Gardening specialist, Althea Llewellyn, and is supported, in part through a grant from the Union County Means Green initiative and through grants from the Junior League of Summit and the Summit Area Public Foundation.
Monthly gardening classes and workshops incorporate the square foot gardening method, from seed selection, to planting, harvesting, and eating! Seasonal cooking workshops and summer camps also introduce the children to basic kitchen and cooking skills, planning and working with recipes, making healthy eating choices, preparing nutritious snacks, and trying new foods…all from the garden.
Adult seasonal workshops are also offered.
Still not sure you have the time or the space to grow your own? Here are some other ways you can eat sustainably at home:
1. Visit your local farmer’s market. Enjoy local seasonal produce that didn’t have to travel 1,500 miles to get to your plate! (Shipping long distances uses large amounts of fossil fuels, creates pollution, and trash with extra packaging.) You’ll also get to stroll outdoors, meet and talk to farmers and learn more about how your food is grown and where it is coming from. FYI - The local Summit Farmers Market is open on Sundays, 8am-1pm, April 22-November 18, 2018 in Park & Shop Lot #2 at the corner of DeForest and Maple!
2. Join a CSA (Community Supported Agriculture). Like the farmers market, a CSA ensures that you and your family will receive the freshest local produce available from an assortment of farms across the Garden State. Most programs run from May through November. You pre-pay to join the program and choose the ‘box’ or ‘share’ size that suits the size of your family. No shopping is involved. Your in-season produce is automatically ready for pick-up at a designated location each week. FYI – Dreyer Farms at 831 Springfield Avenue in Cranford offers a weekly CSA program that is now in its seventh year. Registration begins in late winter/early spring. Several sized shares and memberships are available, and recipes and tips for your harvest are also included!
3. Pick your own. Visit local farms that are open to the public across the Garden State and literally pick your own fruits, vegetables, and flowers, too! Although you may not be able to do this on a regular basis, it makes a perfect day-trip with the kids to get outside, explore nature, and learn more about where their food comes from. New Jersey has tons of pick-your-own farms. Just do a quick Google search to find ones near you. Call to confirm hours and what’s in season.
Here’s to happy and healthy eating!