Approximately 35% of American households grow food either at home or in a community garden. But as more urban homes are built and less people have their own garden, it’s easy to disconnect from nature and where your food really comes from. Fortunately, you can easily grow a variety of foods in pots on windowsills or on balconies. You can also visit a public garden, an orchard, or go foraging to help you reconnect with nature and truly appreciate all that it offers.

Grow your Own Food

There’s nothing so rewarding as growing your own food. The best part is, anyone can do it, no matter how much experience they have. Get a beginner’s book, gardening magazine, or look online for how to grow food. Start with a garden, greenhouse, or even pots on windowsills. Herbs, tomatoes, potatoes, and salad leaves are great options for beginners. Sow some seeds, care for them as they grow, and watch them produce fresh food. Then you can chop up your produce into salads, make sauces with them, and bake with them.

Growing your own food helps you reconnect with nature as you learn to embrace the seasons, soil, water, and sunlight that make your produce grow. Spending time in your garden, or anywhere outside, has proven to benefit overall health, including reducing stress, depression, and blood pressure levels.

Visit an Orchard

If you don’t have your own garden or you haven’t planted much, reconnect with your food and nature by visiting a local orchard. Walking around, enjoying the sights, and buying fresh food can help you appreciate where your food comes from. Many orchards let you pay to pick your own fruit. Not only is this good for reconnecting with nature and your food, but it also a great way to support local businesses. If you don’t have any orchards nearby, look for public gardens or open gardens that you can visit. Many will grow fruits, vegetables, or herbs.

If you live in the Grand Rapids area, start reconnecting with nature by visiting Robinette’s orchards and picking your own apples.

Go Foraging for Your Food

Foraging for things like mushrooms can be a bit dangerous if you’re not 100% positive what is edible and what is poisonous. But there are plenty of other things you can forage for to take home and eat. Lots of wildflowers are edible. Dandelions can be boiled up to make a plant-based version of honey. Nettle leaves, cattail roots, lamb’s quarters, and sheep sorrel are also edible. You can forage for wild berries, including blackberries, raspberries, blueberries, and sumac berries. If you’re foraging in Michigan woods, look for orange hawk-weed, beach peas, wild grapes, wild carrots, and goldenrod.

Waste Less Food

When you appreciate the time, effort, care, and patience that goes into producing fresh food, you’re much less likely to waste it. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) currently estimates that 30-40% of America’s food supply is wasted. Not only could we save a lot of food and distribute it to people who really need it, but you could also save a lot of money by not wasting food, as well as paying for seeds rather than the food itself. When you reconnect with your food, you’re more likely to find ways to preserve it or share what you don’t need with family, friends, and neighbors. This boosts your sense of community while reducing waste.

Reconnecting with nature helps you appreciate where your food comes from and what goes into producing it. This reduces food waste and boosts your mental and physical well-being as you spend more time enjoying the great outdoors.

Visit Robinette’s Apple Haus to pick out fresh, locally-grown produce.

Written by Isabella Lovett for Robinette’s