Approximately 35% of American households grow food either at home or in a community garden. But as more urban homes are built and predictions of people living without a garden of their own, it’s easy to disconnect from nature and where your food really comes from. Fortunately, there are plenty of foods that can easily be grown in pots on windowsills or on balconies. Alternatively, you can visit a public or open garden, an orchard, or go foraging to help you reconnect and truly appreciate nature.

Grow your own
There’s nothing so rewarding as growing your own food, and anyone can do it, no matter how much experience or space you have. Get a beginner’s book, gardening magazine, or look online for how to grow food, either in pots on windowsills, in the garden, or in a greenhouse. An easy place to start is with herbs, tomatoes, potatoes, and salad leaves. It can be really beneficial to sow some seeds, care for them as they grow, and watch them produce fresh food that you can chop up into salads, make sauces from, and bake with. Growing your own food helps you to connect with nature as you learn to embrace the seasons, soil, water, and sunlight that all make everything possible in the garden. In fact, spending time in your garden, or anywhere outside for that matter, has proven to benefit overall health, including reducing stress, depression, and lowering blood pressure levels, with the added bonus of lots of healthy, homegrown food too.

Visit an orchard
If you don’t have your own garden or you haven’t planted much yet, connect with your food and nature by visiting an orchard. Simply walking around, enjoying the sights, and buying some fresh food can help you to really appreciate where your food comes from, but many orchards let you pay to pick some fruit that you get to take home. Not only is this good for reconnecting with nature and your food, but it also means you’re supporting local businesses and your food has low food miles. If you don’t have any orchards nearby, look for public gardens or open gardens that you can visit as many will grow some fruits, vegetables, or herbs.

Go foraging for your food
Foraging for things like mushrooms can be a bit dangerous if you’re not 100% certain of what is edible as some can be poisonous, but there are plenty of other things you can forage for to take home and eat. Lots of wildflowers are edible, such as dandelions which can be boiled up to make a plant-based version of honey, along with other edible plants like nettle leaves, cattail roots, lamb’s quarters, and sheep sorrel. Wild berries are great to forage for too, including blackberries, raspberries, blueberries, and sumac berries. Specifically in the Michigan woods, look out for orange hawk-weed, beach peas, wild grapes, wild carrots, and goldenrod.

Less food waste
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 a massive 30-40% of America’s food supply is wasted. Not only could a lot of food be saved and distributed to people who really need it, but you could also save a lot of money by not wasting food, as well paying for seeds rather than the food itself. When you reconnect with your food, you’re more likely to find ways of preserving it or share what you don’t need with family, friends, and neighbors, boosting your sense of community too while reducing waste.

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

Written by Isabella Lovett for Robinette’s