News Treehugger Voices How to Grow as a Person While Growing Food You, too, will become bigger, stronger, more connected and resilient. By Elizabeth Waddington Elizabeth Waddington Facebook LinkedIn Writer, Permaculture Designer, Sustainability Consultant University of St Andrews (MA) Elizabeth has worked since 2010 as a freelance writer and consultant covering gardening, permaculture, and sustainable living. She has also written a number of books and e-books on gardens and gardening. Learn about our editorial process Published March 22, 2022 03:00PM EDT Fact checked by Haley Mast Fact checked by Haley Mast LinkedIn Harvard University Extension School Haley Mast is a freelance writer, fact-checker, and small organic farmer in the Columbia River Gorge. She enjoys gardening, reporting on environmental topics, and spending her time outside snowboarding or foraging. Topics of expertise and interest include agriculture, conservation, ecology, and climate science. Learn about our fact checking process Thanasis Zovoilis / Getty Images Share Twitter Pinterest Email News Environment Business & Policy Science Animals Home & Design Current Events Treehugger Voices News Archive It is not only plants that grow in a garden. Spending time in a garden, growing your own and tending the land, can help people grow, too. There are plenty of ways to grow and become a better person while growing food. Growing your own food is more than just a practical exercise. It is something that enhances your life beyond measure and makes you the best person you can be. Spending time in a garden, working in harmony with the natural world, helps us all to dig deep, take a long look at ourselves, and delve into what it really means to be human. Boosting Personal Resilience by Growing Food When we think about resilience, we may think about how we interact with the world around us. But at its heart, resilience is something that comes from within. In essence, when we talk about resilience, we are talking about our ability to cope with whatever the world may throw at us. It is not simply about being safe and secure in our position in the world. Rather, it is about how we react to changing circumstances and what our mental strength can withstand. Growing your own in a garden quickly teaches you the difference between those things you can control and those you cannot. In a garden, you will likely enjoy many successes, but you will no doubt experience many failures, too—some due to your own error and some which were unavoidable. As you build your patience, learn to cope with disappointments, and gain confidence as a gardener, you become a person more able to deal with whatever challenges life may bring. Building Skills as a Gardener Although resilience comes from a personal foundation, it should also be considered on a broader scale. Becoming resilient as a household and as a community involves being able to take a greater level of control over your own basic needs. As a gardener, you can build crucial skills for higher levels of self-reliance and move closer to a state of self-sufficiency. You can build skills not only in gardening, but also in other skills like DIY, crafting, repair, cooking, and food preservation as you create and tend your garden and process the produce you grow. Learning to Look Beyond Your Own Needs As you gain in resilience and self-reliance, gardening can allow you to eliminate or reduce pressing everyday concerns as you begin to obtain yields from your space. Lessening the stresses and strains associated with providing for your basic needs and those of your family may leave more time and space for other considerations. As a gardener, you learn to look beyond your own basic needs and to recognize the needs of others—human and non-human—in the world around you. As a gardener, you have the opportunity to help wildlife and repair ecosystems, to enhance your neighborhood and help your neighbors, and to combat global crises for the benefit of all. heshphoto / Getty Images Increasing Empathy and Compassion in a Garden If you have a garden, you are in a fortunate position. This is something that you will come to appreciate when you use your garden to the fullest. Recognizing the gifts that nature gives us can help us to hone our empathy and compassion, to recognize that others are less fortunate, and to reach out to others in a wide range of ways. Growing our own food in a garden can help us not only meet our own needs, but also share. We can pass on excess and show true gratitude for what we have been given. We can share with all the other living creatures, large and very small, who inhabit our space, and also share what we have with other people. We can help others through passing on the lessons we have learned and by providing tangible and non-tangible ways to "pay it forward." And as we do so, observing our gardens and enjoying interactions within it will give us models for how to become better people. This will help us to build connections in all aspects of our lives.