Kitchen Gardening: A Productive Way To Get Fresh, Organic Foods

Kitchen Gardening: A productive way to get fresh, organic foods

PESHAWAR, (UrduPoint / Pakistan Point News - 26th Nov, 2023) The green grocer was busy arranging vegetables on racks in his shop but his face was worrisome after witnessing dwindling customers ratio mostly affected by exorbitant prices of vegetables and supply due to skyrocketing fuel prices.

The overall situation seemed grim from a business point of view as some vegetables assembled on racks for display were seen losing freshness while some that are used raw for sprinkling like coriander and mint were near to decaying due to shortage of customers in the local market.

“The prices of daily use vegetables are ascending fast with each passing day in Peshawar, Nowshera, Mardan and Charsadda markets and even people belonging to middle class finding it very difficult to purchase them,” said Muhammad Arif, a vegetable shop owner at Gulbahar Peshawar while talking to APP.

He said the cheapest items like coriander and mint were being sold on double and triple of the previous prices, making these items beyond the reach of customers in the local market.

"The persistent increase in prices of daily use vegetables including potato, tomato, onion, lemons and others have left people with no other option than to set up kitchen gardens on available spaces in homes and even on rooftops to fulfill their families’ fresh and organic food demands," he said.

He admitted that availability of proper places for kitchen garden is very difficult in cities but vegetables could be grown on rooftops by introducing innovative agricultural techniques. Vegetables that are grown in kitchen gardens are fresh, healthy, organic and full of nutrients as compared to those that come from farms and markets, he opined and said, "Some of the reasons that affected quality of produce are unnecessary use of fertilizers to improve the yield."

Frequent use of fertilizers to increase crop production have also negatively impacted the nutritional value of vegetables and even their taste, he said and added that most important factor of kitchen gardening is money saving.

Kitchen gardening is also called home gardening or backyard gardening and refers to growing edible plants, herbs, and vegetables in and around home. The practice is adaptable to various spaces, including small balconies, windowsills, containers, or larger backyard plots and allows individuals with limited space to still engage in productive gardening.

“One of the foremost benefits is the ability to harvest fresh and organic produce according to your needs while fruits, vegetables and herbs have higher nutritional value and superior taste compared to items brought from store or vegetable shops,” said Qaisar Afridi, a kitchen gardener while talking to APP.

Qaisar Afridi, who resides in New Javaid Town and grew a kitchen garden next to his home, said that he was enjoying the exquisite taste of fresh vegetables without spending a penny.

“I used natural manure to keep vegetables healthy as compared to factory-fertilizers that are not suited for vegetables of daily use,” he told.

He was of the view that engaging in kitchen gardening provides chances of physical activity and outdoor exposure that are needed to live a healthy lifestyle.

"While consuming fresh and homegrown produce contributes to a nutritious diet and supporting overall well-being," he added.

Health experts have termed gardening a therapeutic way to reduce stress and promote mental well-being.

“The act of caring for plants and seen them growing is a calming and rewarding experience for me,” Qaisar Afridi said.

“Kitchen gardening provides an excellent educational experience to children as they can learn about plant life cycles, the importance of soil health, balanced ecosystem and the basics of horticulture besides fostering a greater understanding and appreciation for the food we consume,” said Sundas Ali, a nutritionist while talking to APP.

She said kitchen gardeners had the freedom to choose the plants they want to grow according to taste and tailoring the garden to their preferences and needs.

"This gives them a diverse range of fruits, vegetables and herbs adding variety to meals. With proper planning and use of new techniques like crop rotation, and greenhouse gardening, individuals can enjoy a continuous harvest throughout the year and even in different climates and seasons," she added.

“Kitchen gardening is also a way to promote sustainability by reducing carbon emission associated with transportation and it also encourages the use of eco-friendly practices,” opined Dr Tauheedul Haq, former Conservator of Forests KP

He maintained, "Kitchen gardening is a versatile, interesting and rewarding practice in GULF and Central Asian States besides EU that brings numerous benefits by providing fresh and healthy food to fostering a deeper connection with nature and the community."

Jan Muhammad, Director General Extension, Agriculture Department told the news agency that importance of kitchen garden had increased in Pakistan due to rapid population growth that is squeezing agricultural lands keeping in view of the mushroom growth of housing societies.

He said Pakistan’s climatic and soil conditions were most suitable for growing almost all kinds of vegetables. The total crop area of Pakistan is about 22.94 million hectares and expansion in it would be required keeping in view the food requirements of rising population bulge.

“Kitchen garden’s technique can be highly productive for the country,” he added.

APP/mds-fam/taj (APP Feature Service)