The Capital is really becoming known for its abundance of restaurants and chefs that use locally grown foods and ingredients to create wonderful menus. Over the next few months, we’ll share with you the many places you can go for dining in Sacramento. But, today I thought I'd share a little rite of passage and one of the fun things to do in Sacramento for those of us who are lucky enough to have a backyard and the willingness to get a little dirt under our nails. 

My husband and I welcomed the beginning of spring this year by planting our very first edible garden. I recently learned our growing season is 289 days long, which makes gardening the perfect outdoor activity in Sacramento. As newbies, we went with tried-and-true tomatoes, peppers, basil and strawberries. Though we won’t see our first crop for another couple of months, I’m already giddy with anticipation.

Planting a garden has been so gratifying that I thought I’d share some good reasons why you should you should start your very own. And trust me, if a novice like me can do it (with a lot of help from my husband) so can you.

You get to spend time outdoors. If you’re like me, you spend most your time inside – whether it’s in your office, car or home. Planting a garden encourages you to spend a little bit of your day getting fresh air as you water, feed and maintain your plants.

You get to unplug. We live in such a technologically driven society that planting a garden takes us back to our roots to enjoy the simple things in life. There’s nothing more organic and de-stressing than playing outside in the dirt.

You get to see the fruits of your labor. Literally. After a hard day’s work, a lot of us don’t get to see the tangible results of the work we’ve accomplished. With a garden, you do. Sure, it takes a little while for it to grow, but that makes the harvest even more satisfying.

You reap what you sow. If you’re looking for a teachable moment for your kids, plant a garden. Not only will they learn the aforementioned adage, but also, “Patience is a virtue,” and, “It’s the journey, not the destination.” I’m sure there’s a dozen more where that came from.

It builds community. Community fruit and vegetable barter groups are becoming pretty popular these days. Neighbors get to know each other as they come together to exchange their surplus crops, and growing tips too.

It’s good for your health. You won’t need to worry about pesticides, herbicides, fungicides, artificial fertilizers or genetically modified seed, since you’ll know exactly what went into your food.

It’s good for your wallet. Organic produce can be a bit pricey. Grow your own and save bundles in the process.

It’s good for the planet. Growing your own fruits and veggies helps cut down on carbon dioxide emissions and packaging materials associated with transporting food. Not only does this reinforce sustainable living, but your food will be whole lot fresher as well.

If you lack the yard space, rooftops, flower pots, windows boxes, and hanging baskets provide an outlet for you to grow your own plants. You can also get involved in a local community garden or urban agricultural projects such as Community Supported Agriculture (CSA).

If gardening just isn’t for you, dine at a restaurant that supports local agriculture. Several Sacramento restaurants are committed to using fresh, organic, and locally grown ingredients in the dishes they prepare. These include Mulvaney’s Building & Loan, Grange inside the Citizen Hotel, and Roxy Restaurant & Bar.

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