Gardening for a Good Life

by admin on 08/01/2023

Woman shows gardening to two young boys.

Gardening can benefit the body, mind, and spirit, as well as help build human connections as well as the community. Whether you’re growing herbs, flowers, fruits, or vegetables, positive effects on your life will be part of the harvest you reap. Read on for tips from slow food supporters Slow Pix to learn more.

Strengthen Your Body

Getting a bit of sun while you garden increases your Vitamin D levels, which helps your body to retain more calcium, resulting in stronger bones and joints and even boosting your immune system. The Cleveland Clinic explains that the weight-bearing and resistance exercises from walking, digging, and pulling weeds can help to prevent osteoporosis, as well as strengthen your muscles and endurance.

Revitalize and Calm Your Mind

Studies of the effects of gardening on people with dementia found improvements in levels of stress, agitation, and depression; encouraged engagement with people and the environment; and reduced the amount of medication needed. Other research has documented that exposure to a bacteria common in the soil, M. vaccae, activates the release of serotonin in the brain, which can help with depression. One study suggests that gardening can help to improve memory and cognitive function.

Nurture Your Connections

Gardening with your family, friends, or neighbors can build stronger bonds with these people, according to VeryWell Family. A community garden is a great way to get to know neighbors, share produce with others, and connect with kindred spirits. Include your children in planning, starting, and maintaining the garden, as well as making decisions about who to share the harvest with. Whether your family has a garden on the roof, in a raised bed or other container, or in the ground, it’s a wonderful way to spend time in nature and develop pride in their work.

Many people are learning to value having a dedicated garden space on their property. So, if you decide to sell your property in the future, you may find that your raised or in-ground garden will nurture your home’s appraisal as well as your relationships.

Think About What You’ll do with the Harvest

Whether you grow herbs, flowers, or produce, harvesting the results will be rewarding. You may want to give some away to friends and neighbors or donate to a food bank. You and your household may be excited about savoring the fruits of their own labor.

Another option is selling your harvest. You might even consider starting a new company to pursue agri-business on a small scale, with the possibility of expanding later. Options for growing and selling mushrooms, Christmas trees, sod, flowers, herbs, or fruits and vegetables abound. You could sell your products at a farmer’s market, a roadside produce stand, or sell directly to restaurants or stores.

Improve Your Own Quality of Life

Besides the benefits of the process of gardening, you can reap rewards in the form of fresh fruits, vegetables, and herbs to cook with. If you prefer organic foods, you can make your garden an organic one, and control exactly what products your plants will be exposed to. Your family may be more excited about getting their daily servings of vegetables and fruits when they include homegrown tomatoes, strawberries, and peppers. Studies have shown that elementary school children who help with gardening, harvesting, and preparing the foods they’ve grown are likely to eat more vegetables. The outdoor time and reduction in stress are also benefits.

You Can Start Small

If the idea of gardening seems overwhelming, think about getting started on a very small scale. You could start with a container garden, for example, a window box of flowers, or a large outdoor pot in which you grow tomatoes. Browse the seeds at the hardware store, or get on the mailing list for a seed catalog, which is sure to inspire you, and don’t hesitate to ask established gardeners for guidance.

Embrace the Positive Influences of Gardening

There’s plenty of evidence that gardening of many types can help people be more active and make healthier food choices, reduce depression and anxiety, improve immunity, cognition, and strength, make more social connections, and in general, improve the quality of life for those who participate regularly. So think about what you might be inspired to grow and possibly donate or sell. Gardening could change your life for the better in so many different ways.

The Slow food movement is growing, and Slow Pix seeks to honor and support it. Visit our site to get inspired for new ways to embrace getting back to the earth and learning about all of its benefits.

Maria Cannon ha written this article. Here are her own words: I believe we’re never too young to dedicate ourselves to a hobby. I created Hobby Jr. to encourage young people to find a hobby they love. I suffered from depression and anxiety for years. Her hobbies–gardening, quilting, sewing, and knitting–play a major role in maintaining her mental health.

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Fokhol farm

by admin on 26/08/2021

The farm with an onion field and a meadow in the foreground The farm with an onion field and a meadow in the foreground

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In spring 2021, I got a message from Biologisk dynamisk forening  that bio-dynamic farms in Norway needed seasonal workers because of Covid-19 restrictions. Since Fokhol farm was the only farm with domestic animals, I decided to go there in the last week of August.

I was met by the farmer Rune, who showed me around the house where all the volunteers were living. All of them got separate rooms and there was a kitchen where we could prepare mostly dry food with delicious yogurt from the farm’s cows.

My room had a view towards a garden with some deciduous trees where various very chatty birds could be heard, especially early in the morning.

Fokhol farm is owned by a foundation called Stiftelsen Fokhol Gård, which is an ideal and non-profit foundation. The foundation has the following objectives:
– Versatile biological-dynamic agriculture.
– Development by means of cooperation with competent partners.
– Educational activities.

The farm has about 34 cows and some heifers. During my stay, I could see some male calves in a pen where they were quite often play-fighting. Another pen had a group of female calves, which were much more quiet.

Fokhol is a biodynamic farm producing grain, potatoes, vegetables, milk, meat and fodder. They also have a small greenhouse where they are growing tomatoes and they have some bushes of redcurrant and blackcurrant, some fruit trees and some rows of flowers.

My tasks during my stay included picking redcurrants, weeding a gravel path and picking onions. I joined two workers, one from Romania and one from Poland, to pick onions in three shifts, one in the morning, one in the afternoon and one in the evening. While the workers apparently never got tired and always picked all the onions, I got tired, especially in the back and I never managed to pick all of the onions. Anyway, I picked a lot of of them.

Each of us had a basket, which we should fill with onions and bring them back to a trailer where we emptied the contents of the basket. When the trailer was full, one of the workers drove the tractor with the trailer to a barn. Having emptied the trailer and returned to the onion field, we did the same work again.

During my stay it was common to hear trumpet-like sounds, which were caused by cranes. The farmer Rune, who told me he had been interested in birds since he was a teenager, said that they had a nest near the farm, but he didn’t know where. Besides cranes, he had also seen common buzzard and red kite during my stay, while barn swallows were flying over the field where we were picking onions, always looking for insects. In addition, he told me that a pair of common swifts had raised a second litter of chickens and they were getting ready to migrate southwards. The birds kept the number of flies low even though the cows continually spread manure on the meadows at the farm.

There was a lot of spare time in the evenings and I went for walks in the area around the farm. First, I had to pass various meadows, many of which were covered with a wide variety of plants. Rune told me that they seeded the meadows with a mixture of 10 seeds, amongst them vetches and clover.

I also passed a pen with Ardenner workhorses . Rune said that they were only used for work when he could teach someone to use them, but there were too few volunteers this year.

The area around Fokhol was lovely, especially in the evenings just before sunset. The lake of Mjøsa could be seen in the distance and there were lots of deciduous trees between the meadows. It was beautiful and serene and I really felt like home in this area. A local an told me that it’s called the Nordic Tuscany.

When we were picking onions, the cows were let out in the morning. Then, they walked very slowly and some even slower than the other ones to a nearby meadow where they could go grazing. Some time later they came back to be milked. Some volunteers worked with the cows, letting them enter the barn and go to their separate places, giving them hay and water, cleaning the barn, harvesting milk by means of milking machines and letting them outside again.

The last days during my stay at the farm, a farm shop was opened where the public could buy the onions we had picked. Depending on the time of year, they also sell potatoes from the farm.

I would recommend to work as a volunteer at Fokhol. Some of the volunteers stayed only a week or two, but some stayed for months. One volunteer was a student at an agricultural school and she would stay several months to get practice.

A summary of a climate report in Norwegian on Fokhol farm follows below.

House-holding with plant nutrients
Norwegian agriculture is constructed to produce livestock products for domestic consumption with self-sufficiency regarding hay and fodder plants and a large part of imported fodder in terms of concentrated feeds.

Climate impact of agriculture
The climate impact of the operation at Fokhol farm is nearly 40 % lower per area unit compared to Norwegian agriculture overall. This also applies when the climate impact is related to the amount of produced nutrients in the form of energy and protein.

Organic farms, like Fokhol farm, are based on circular production with a versatile crop rotation, self sufficiency if fodder and a major area of fields set aside for growing vegetables for human consumption.

The reduced climate impact is, as with reduced loss of plant nutrients, a direct consequence of the high degree of self-sufficiency with a small supply of external resources and a limited number of livestock adapted to the amount of fodder produced at the farm.

The soil as a carbon storage
Growing meadows and adding manure, plant residues and roots to the soil after harvesting leads to binding of carbon in the organic matter.

Production at Fokhol farm
Production of foods at Fokhol farm are at a high level when expressed as energy and protein in plant and animal products. To a certain degree, it can be ascribed to the good growing conditions at the farm, but it’s also a result of an operation combining growing plants and raising livestock and a crop rotation where nourishing and consuming plants replace each other. Such cycles, where composting of manure according to bio-dynamic principles also enter into the operation, take care of plant nutrients and increases the feritility of the soil.
Growing of vegetables, root vegetables and potatoes also contribute to the productivity of the farm.

Concluding remarks
By letting other farms follow the operation at Fokhol farm and others with similar activities, threats against soil and our common future will be reduced. This applies in particular to depletion of biological diversity and the weakening of the soil’s fertility in long-term perspective. Problems with manure runoff to watercourses and the sea will be reduced, likewise the consumption of non-renewable natural resources.

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Dacha preparedness garden

21 August 2021
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A vegetable garden used as an example to be prepared for unexpected events.

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Lega farmhouse dairy and bakery

24 July 2020
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A small farm with about 250 goats.

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A photo from each visit

25 December 2019

For viewing the videos in full format, please click here. Here, videos showing one photo from each visit will appear. Photos from 2008 – 2010. Photos from 2011 – 2013. Photos from 2014 – 2015. Photos from 2016 – 2017. Photos from 2018 – 2019.

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Albert Csaba – fish farmer

5 October 2019
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A family-run fish farm.

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Kázmér brewery – premium craft beer

3 October 2019
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A small beer producer.

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Krausz chocolate

3 October 2019
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A small chocolate producer.

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Nagy Géza – butcher

3 October 2019
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A family-owned butchery.

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Anna Olah Nagy – confectioner

2 October 2019
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A female confectioner who makes cakes at home.

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Sárig Attila- farmer, part II

2 October 2019
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A farmer with ducks, chickens, pigs and cows.

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Trifolium Kajo farm – part II

1 October 2019
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A s,all farm where goats are raised.

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Gergely László – beekeeper

30 September 2019
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A beekeeper who wants to live near his beehives.

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Dániel Tibor – cheese-maker

30 September 2019
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A farm with a few cows whose milk is turned into cheese.

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Visiting a sheepfold in the Tarcău mountains, part II

29 September 2019
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A sheepfold woth about 500 sheep and 70 cows.

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Elfruct – fruit press

26 September 2019
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A small fruit press where various types of juices are made.

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Berri chocolate

25 September 2019
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A chocolate maker who works alone.

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Jánosi bakery and confectionery

25 September 2019
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A small family-owned bakery and confectionery

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The milk mine – mining the farmer’s life

25 September 2019
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A famliy-run farm where cheese is made.

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Galffi Dezső – designer and chocolate maker

24 September 2019
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A small company making chocolate for special occasions, if required.

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