Share your location for a better experience

Please enter your city or town so we can help you find the right care at the right place.

Get care nowSign in

Health news and blog

    Wellness and preventative medicine

    The benefits of growing your own food

    Growing your own fruits and vegetables

    Finding new ways to be healthier can be challenging, but one of the simplest may be in your own backyard.

    Growing your own food is a way to add healthy food into your diet while taking on a hobby that’s great for both your mind and your body.

    Kara Shirey, a registered dietitian nutritionist, at the Lifestyle Medicine & Wellness Center in Park City, says spending time outside can help with stress reduction, which is especially important for long term health.

    She also said, “If you have more fruits and vegetables in your diet, you get more of those important nutrients, vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, and less calories overall than some other food choices.”

    Shirey isn’t alone when it comes to touting the benefits of growing your own food.

    Researchers at the University of Alabama have been studying how gardening improves the lives of cancer survivors.

    Some of the main findings were that by adding home gardens, people were more likely to eat more fruits and vegetables and increase their daily activity and exercise.

    Shirey also has some experience of her own when growing food from scratch.

    She worked in the growing season at Copper Moose Farm in Park City. It’s a community agriculture farm, so members can get fresh fruits and vegetables from there every week.

    If the thought of growing your own food is daunting, don’t worry, Shirey has some helpful advice for you.

    She says you should start small because one of the biggest barriers is time. If time is a barrier for you, the other option is contributing to a garden near you.

    “Many cities and even more rural areas have community gardens where you can learn first-hand from knowledgeable community members about what works and what doesn’t in your local climate,” said Shirey.

    She also recommends researching your climate and growing season so you can learn which fruits and vegetables grow the best where you live.

    You can find out which foods tend to grow well in your climate on the USDA website.

    In late April to early May, it’s possible to grow these in Utah:

    • Veggies - Beans, beets, broccoli, brussels sprouts, cabbage, carrots, cauliflower, corn, cucumbers, eggplant, kale, lettuce, onions, peas, peppers, pumpkins, radishes, spinach, summer squash, tomatoes, and zucchini
    • Fruits - Blackberries, blueberries, strawberries, and raspberries
    • Herbs - Basil, chives, cilantro, dill, lavender, mint, oregano, parsley, rosemary, sage, and thyme

    If you choose to use starts, which means plants that’re already started and grown from a greenhouse, the general rule of thumb is to wait to plant after Mother's Day.

    Shirey also agrees that people are more likely to eat more fruits and vegetables if they start their own garden because they won’t want the fruits of their labor to go to waste.

    She also says gardening can be a great way to get kids to eat healthier food.

    “We know that most kids aren’t eating the recommended amounts of fruits and vegetables. For younger children we see that increased exposure to fruits and vegetables, such as through school gardens or home gardens, can increase interest in new foods and lower some of the fear around trying new foods,” said Shirey.

    If all this talk about growing your own food has you itching to get going, but you still want some extra guidance on how to work the fruits and vegetables into your diet, book an appointment with one of our registered dietitian nutritionists at the Lifestyle Medicine & Wellness Center closest to you.

    Book an appointment