Growing Food

Thousands of years ago, early people moved from place to place in search of food. They ate what they could find, including roots, nuts, and berries. Later, people living in places with rich soil and water, such as Egypt and Mesopotamia, realized that they could plant seeds and grow crops so they didn’t have to hunt for food.

Small farms sprang up—a way of life that continued for hundreds and hundreds of years. Today, most of the food we eat comes from large farms run by corporations. A few small farms are still owned by families. Many people supplement the food they buy at the grocery store with produce from their own gardens.


Fun Facts

  • During World War I and World War II, people were encouraged to plant “victory gardens.” These gardens not only helped feed people at home, but food from the gardens was also sent to troops. Communities planted victory gardens in parks and public areas.
  • Today in community gardens, people can rent a small space to use for a personal garden.
  • Farmers markets and CSAs allow people to buy produce, meat, and eggs directly from small farmers in their community.
  • Schools are planting gardens too. The produce is used by the students or given to food banks.
  • Vegetables are generally sorted into three groups: root vegetables, including carrots, radishes, parsnips, and potatoes; fruiting vegetables (not really vegetables at all), such as tomatoes, peppers, squash, and melons; and leafy vegetables, such as spinach, broccoli, and lettuce.
  • Fruits and vegetables have different growing needs. Some vegetables will grow better in your yard than others. Cool-season crops, including lettuce, radishes, spinach, and peas, grow quickly but they don’t like heat. They grow best in cool, moist weather. Warm-season crops, including tomatoes, corn, squash, peppers, green beans, melons, and pumpkins need a long, warm growing season. If you live in a place with a cool climate, growing these crops will be challenging. If you live in a place that’s hot most of the year, growing lettuce and peas might be hard.
  • In places with cool springs and warm summers, gardeners can grow both cool-season and warm-season crops.
  • If you have a small space, try growing herbs in pots. You can also grow compact varieties of tomatoes and peppers.
  • If you have a little more space, grow lettuce, carrots, peas, radishes, and maybe a few tomatoes and pepper plants. Corn, potatoes, and squash take up a lot of room. They also need nice, rich soil.
  • If you have a lot of space, you can grow all the vegetables mentioned above, plus a few berry bushes and grape vines.
  • Some people still enjoy foraging for wild berries, mushrooms, asparagus, and other wild foods.

Learn More

Learn how to plant a vegetable garden at home.