What’s at the bottom of the passion that drives people to grow their own food?

For years we’ve been interested in what drives the urge to grow your own food, but it can be hard to articulate.

It’s something we’ve felt ourselves for most of our lives, so we totally get it.

But how do you describe that deep, yearning desire to grow your own food? And the incredible satisfaction and pride you feel when you harvest, cook, and eat a home-grown meal?  

A person in a black suit eating chicken and salad from a white plate
Sharing a home-grown and home-cooked chicken dinner

What growing your own means to us

When we sit down to a meal, we’ll often comment out loud about where the meal came from. We’ll note which ingredients we grew ourselves, or what came from the local farmers market. Meals will often include ingredients that might have come from neighbours, friends, or family.

We’re in the incredibly fortunate position of having lived on the farm where Katie grew up since the late 1990s. We’ve had plenty of time to develop skills and get systems in place to grow a large part of what we eat.

We’ve also practised home butchery for years. We’re very lucky to be able to mainly eat meat grown on our own farm or by someone else in the family. Most other meat we eat comes from other farms in the district.

We grow at least half our own veggies, and preserve a lot of our excess summer veg to eat in winter. We also swap vegetables between various members of the family. And of course, we have the privilege of having the Gung Hoe market garden here on the farm as well.

A basket containing vegetables including cucumber, yellow marrow, red tomatoes, green basil leaves and yellow flowers
A basket of summer vegies from our garden

Of course, we have access to all the fruit we could possibly want for eating fresh, preserving, and cooking, both from the orchards managed by The Orchard Keepers and from our own garden.

Eggs come from our own chooks, plus they supply the occasional chicken dinner. We grow our own almonds, and honey comes from the excellent bee-keeper literally just down the road. Milk comes from the on-farm Sellar dairy, which we also use to make our own yoghurt.

Spring harvest: eggs from the chickens, plus broadbeans, Warrigal greens, and onions from the garden
Spring harvest: eggs from the chickens, plus broadbeans, Warrigal greens, and onions from the garden

Our little meal-time ritual is a small way of expressing gratitude and appreciation for the earth, and the many farmers who produce our food.

But it also gets us thinking about the foods we don’t grow ourselves. We often ask ourselves the question of whether we could grow a particular ingredient, or if it’s replaceable with something else we could grow.

Why do you want to grow food?

To try to get to the bottom of this collective passion for food growing, we recently asked a bunch of gardeners what they thought.

We asked them what came to mind when they thought about being self-sufficient, growing organic food, and producing a surplus to sell. Here’s what they said:

  • It’s the best dream I’ve ever had
  • In my dreams
  • Amazing…yes!
  • To be self-sufficient, to take care of nature and to supply for my community with the surplus, that is what permaculture is about – it all appeals to me!
  • I love the idea of this! Good for the whole world! Good for people, the Earth and our fellow Tellurians, fantastic!
  • Love this!!!
  • My total dream: to be able to be as self-sufficient as possible with food, plus to be environmentally friendly
  • Totally love the idea of being self-sufficient, not having to rely on supermarkets. To know where my food comes from and how it was grown as well as being able to get children involved so they understand the importance of fresh healthy food.
  • Food is all important, to nourish and repair
  • Being sustainable, knowing where and how my food is grown, feeling proud of my produce
  • To be able to go out the back door to the garden and pick food that is free from chemicals that tastes amazing that would be just perfect.
  • Sure is my dream! A few reasons: sustainability and environment, a changing climate and food security, and because I love growing things!

Living a simple life

Katie and Hugh standing at the bench in the kitchen cutting up some home grown peaches for preserving
Cutting up some home grown peaches for preserving

The urge to grow your own seems innate—and of course, that absolutely makes sense. The drive to feed yourself and your family is primal. It’s key to staying alive and making sure your genes are passed on to the next generation.

But these comments show that it’s so much more as well.

We’re not just driven by primal desires (as important as they are). People are also drawn to growing their own food because of deeply held ideals of health, teaching children, eating food with no chemicals, and looking after the environment.

At the bottom of it all is a deep desire to just live simply.

Bring it on, we say.

Have you eaten anything out of your own garden lately? Drop us a comment below to share why you love the idea of growing your own food.

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