Locally grown, organic, non-GMO and fair trade foods are becoming more and more popular on the market. Increasingly, people are becoming more conscious of what they eat, and many want to eat food that is environmentally, socially and economically just.
According to Just Food, a New York based organization that works to increase access to locally grown food food justice is defined as “communities exercising their right to grow, sell, and eat healthy food. Healthy food is fresh, nutritious, affordable, culturally-appropriate, and grown locally with care for the well-being of the land, workers, and animals.”
However, with people going to school and/or working full-time, finding the time and the money to find good food that fits all these categories might not be practical.
Gardening is one of the most environmentally sustainable, healthy and socially just ways of eating food. Many students live in apartments or places with limited outdoor space. Luckily, there is an alternative: indoor gardening.
A wide range of fruits and vegetables can be grown indoors. Only a handful of supplies are needed, and it saves money in the long run. There are fewer pests to deal with indoors, and it saves you a trip to the grocery store!
First, you will need to find the appropriate space to set up your garden. Choose a space with a large window or a lot of natural sunlight. Artificial light is also an alternative if natural light is limited. Place the plant about six inches away from the artificial light. CFLs or LEDs are recommended.
Next, you will need containers for your plants. To save money, you can use recycled yogurt cups, cans or jars. Make sure your containers have holes on the bottom so the water can drain.
If you are using a glass jar, pile rocks on the bottom to allow drainage. If you are using artificial light, use white or light colored containers that can easily reflect light.
Last, your plants will need soil. You can either purchase potting soil from your local garden store, or you can make your own potting mix. If you want to grow organic, make sure to purchase organic soil.
Almost anything can be grown indoors, even fruit trees! You can purchase dwarf lemon, mandarin orange and avocado trees at almost any garden center. They do require more sunlight than smaller plants—about 12 hours per day. Dwarf plants can grow up to 10 feet tall and need bigger pots, so make sure you have plenty of space.
Herbs are another great indoor plant. They need watering and at least six hours of sunlight every day. Herbs are not only great for cooking, but are also great natural remedies for helping with digestion, aches and pains, and even hangovers.
Vegetables such as carrots and salad greens can be grown indoors as well. Make sure to plant the seeds at least one inch apart in rows that are six inches apart from each other. Water and allow them to receive tons of light. Carrots can be harvested when they have sprouted about three-fourths of an inch, and the leaves of the greens can just be picked off, and you can allow the plant to keep growing.
You do not need to grow edible plants either. Succulents are a great indoor plant because they are very low maintenance. Just allow them to receive at least six hours of light per day, and spritz them with water a few times once a week. They are a cheap and easy way to decorate your home, and you can get creative with the containers.
Because indoor plants lack the natural rainfall that outdoor plants get, their soil tends to dry out very quickly. Watering is key, but make sure not to over water. The soil should never be muddy, but always moist. Individual plants require varying levels of water.
Indoor gardening is a great alternative for people who want to save money or add a bit of natural decor to their home. Most importantly, it incorporates all the aspects of the food justice movement.