How to Accomplish Several New Year’s Resolutions at Once

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It is the season for resolutions and you’ve probably noticed that they are always the same – get fit, exercise more, spend more time with family, manage stress, eat better, learn a new skill, get more fresh air, and lose a few pounds. If you have tried these things in the past and had difficulty with the follow-through I propose taking a different path. Grow three vegetables in your backyard that you have never tried before. All of the fore mentioned traditional resolutions can be achieved with a backyard vegetable garden.

My wife recently gave me a step monitoring device. I am amazed at the level of activity I achieve in a short period of time in the garden – carrying mulch, pulling a few weeds, cutting some fresh greens, and digging beets. The activity registers the same as a brisk work out but we have the fresh produce to show for it. Unlike the gym, backyard gardening has no monthly fees or contracts.

Get your kids involved by developing an allowance incentive based on the harvest. Set a time on the weekend to get in the garden as a family. Make a game of it – who can collect 10 different insects first or who can pull the most weeds. Let the creative juices flow as you make garden signs together. Invite friends over to share in a vegetable stew or other dish with ingredients that your family grew together. Let the kids present the meal and explain the production process.

Backyard food production offers one more benefit that doesn’t make it on to most resolution lists. Investing some time into the dying arts of food production and preservation makes you and your family more resilient. Of course it is easier and more efficient to simply buy all of your food at a megamart, but consider the law of development:  gained efficiency is lost resiliency. We are losing something as a society with the absence of calluses from our hands and the presence of plastic around all of our food. I am thankful that we don’t have to hoe cotton and milk cows at 4 a.m. but a small backyard garden can allow a kernel of grit to continue to be passed down to the next generation, even in our perpetually connected and climate conditioned lives.

If you like this backyard food production resolution you may need two more ingredients for success, information and accountability. In 2016, the Catawba County Extension Service is teaming up with libraries throughout the county to offer to the public an Advanced Gardener program. Don’t be intimidated by the name, this program will have something for beginners and veteran gardeners alike. You can pick and choose the monthly presentations that interest you or attend each of the monthly presentations in 2016 to become a certified Advanced Gardener. If you commit to becoming an Advanced Gardener I will personally maintain contact with you throughout the program and work with you to keep your resolution on track for success. I hope to see you there and don’t hesitate to contact the Extension Service for more information: 828-465-8240.