Gardening vegetables has been one of the best decisions for our health.

Having fresh, produce like kale and radishes right outside our door has changed the way we eat and feel. Knowing exactly what goes into growing these vegetables—free from unknown pesticides and mystery chemicals—gives us peace of mind. Plus, the physical activity involved in gardening keeps us moving, improving our strength and reducing stress.

One of the unexpected joys of gardening has been the quality time spent with our family. Working together in the garden has brought us closer, teaching our three year-old about nature and responsibility in a hands-on way–which is great because she loves to get her hands dirty anyway. We’ve shared so many moments, from planting seeds to harvesting our first crop, creating memories that we hope will last a lifetime. It’s definitely going to become a part of our family tradition.

Of course, starting a garden wasn’t without its challenges. There was so much to learn—preparing the soil, figuring out the right timing for planting, and dealing with pests and unpredictable weather. At times, it felt overwhelming, but each hurdle taught us something new and valuable. Our class binder didn’t seem so intimidating after opening it 100 times and knowing right where to look for the pertinent information.

Despite the difficulties, seeing our garden flourish has been incredibly rewarding and worth every bit of effort. The best part of all of this has been harvesting and cooking our homegrown vegetables. Picking kale leaves and knowing they’ll be part of a fresh, healthy meal is so satisfying. We love pan frying our kale and radishes in coconut oil–simple and delicious. Cooking with vegetables we’ve grown ourselves has deepened our connection to the food we eat and made the entire gardening experience truly fulfilling. – Mary Boado