Springtime Gardening

Spring is finally here! After the winter we’ve had, even those who aren’t avid gardeners are itching to get outside and enjoy some green. This year, why not grow a garden? It doesn’t have to be a formal plot in your yard. It can be as simple as an herb garden or a few potted plants on the patio. If those aren’t possibilities, make an effort to buy springtime veggies from a local source, like a farmers market, you-pick farm or farm stand. Did you know Louisville has 20+ farmers markets throughout all parts of the city?

Why eat homegrown or local? Simply put, it is fresher, tastes better and has more nutritional value. Because less time elapses between picking the produce and eating it, homegrown veggies retain more nutrients. And because they are allowed to ripen on the plant rather than in a truck or on a store shelf, the flavor is second to none. Even if you are not a “foodie,” you’ll notice a difference in taste.

Growing your own and buying local also is much cheaper. Example: One tomato plant costs about $1.49 (or you can buy a packet of seeds for less than $1). Add in the minimal cost of some water and a little bit of your time, and one tomato plant can yield about 25 tomatoes. They would cost you about $35 in a grocery store and about $20 at a farmers market. The savings are clear.

Other advantages to growing your own: Self-satisfaction — it just feels good to be able to grow and eat your own food. And when you eat what’s in season and available, it adds variety to your diet. Plus, buying from farmers markets or local farms supports our local economy and has less environmental impact.

–Joyce Retz

Visit www.louisvilleky.gov/HealthyHometown/healthyeating/FarmersMarkets.htm for a list of Louisville farmers markets. Once you load up on fresh veggies, get your free “Get Healthy Everyday Entrées” cookbook, featuring local and regional recipes, by calling the Norton Healthcare Access Center at (502) 629-1234.