Measuring Impact - Why Gardens Matter

Reading headlines today, it’s impossible to avoid the realities of dramatic climate changes. You see it everywhere: sea levels are rising, California’s in a drought, the Great Barrier Reef is losing its colorful corals-- but what can you do as one individual?

For those looking to make a positive impact on the world around you within a reasonable budget, Avalow can help you get there. Here are six statistically proven measures showing how this simple and enjoyable gesture can improve your health, our communities, and the world.

1. Reducing Your Carbon Footprint

This one might seem obvious, but it’s difficult to impress the true ecological value of eating from your own backyard. Avalow helps people grow their own food, regardless of their location-- you may be surprised to learn that our clients are primarily located within thirty minutes of major metropolitan areas, and still manage to have lush, happy gardens. The impact of bringing gardens to urban regions can be measured in a number of ways.

Store-bought food is estimated to travel an average of 1,500 miles from farm to plate, but locally sourced food can reduce that by up to 17x. By enabling more produce from less space, our clients have lowered their average “food miles” by almost 30 percent compared to the national average.

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Eating local food means reduced gas emissions from planes, trains, and trucks. It also means that you’ll be eating more produce that is native to your local climate; plants that are grown in alien climates often need greenhouses heated by fossil fuels to reach maturity.

Just the act of gardening itself provides carbon sequestration, a process in which carbon dioxide is removed from the atmosphere. Avalow’s gardens have been calculated to have sequestered .2 pounds of carbon per square foot, per year. Even with our early clients, that has added up to a total of almost ½ a ton (.396 to be exact)  of carbon removed from the atmosphere!

2. Supporting Friendly Pollinators

Beyond carbon sequestration, gardens also provide critically important pollinator support. The more varied gardens distributed throughout private yards, the more carbon dioxide will be captured, and the more room and resources pollinators have to thrive.

Friendly pollinators (bees, moths, butterflies, bats, and certain types of birds, beetles, and wasps) are absolutely crucial to the health of our ecosystem. While some plants are pollinated by the wind or self-pollination, many of the most commonly grown vegetables only reach maturity with the help of pollinators.

3. Positively Impacting our Healthcare System

Gardeners eat more vegetables (and also more nutritious vegetables) simply due to the accessible produce in their yards. Based on tracking methods conducted by the USDA, the average consumption of vegetables is 1.42 cups per day. An internal survey showed that access to fresh produce from a garden increases that average by 40 percent, bringing it up to 2 cups daily.

People who eat more vegetables have fewer instances of heart disease and obesity, and gardeners also experience the benefits of physical exercise from tending to their beds. When preventative measures like this are put in place, the result is reduced health care costs for us all.

4. Reducing Food Waste

People who garden also use more parts of the plant, reducing food waste. When purchasing food in a grocery store, it’s not always evident how much of the food has already been discarded before it’s put on display. For instance, broccoli is not all about the florets; did you know you can also eat the stalks and leaves?

By growing your own produce, you will have access to every part of your plants, allowing you the opportunity to incorporate them into your recipes instead of throwing them out.

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5. Saving Water

Gardens can replace urban and suburban surfaces of lower ecological value, such as rooftops. They can also replace surfaces that drain resources, such as lawns. Due to our recently developed and unique technologies, Avalow gardens use a fraction of the water that other systems use. In fact, food grown in an Avalow garden uses only 10 percent of the water required by existing methods, such as drip irrigation.

Based on this chart representing the average amount of water used for maintaining garden beds, Avalow gardens have helped conserve 124,800 gallons of water in this past year alone.

Growing home gardens with a higher-density, ecologically-balanced, and water conservation-focused manner sets an example for how food can be grown. This will radically shift larger-scale agricultural efforts, with dramatic impacts on how land is used, and you can be a part of the movement.

6. Supporting Access to Education

Since starting Avalow, we’ve provided gardens to kindergartens, middle schools, and high schools across multiple districts. In total, Avalow has provided over 1400 student-months of gardening exposure and education.

Along with reducing food waste, carbon footprints, and rates of water usage, at the heart of our core values is outdoor and gardening education. To spread not only garden beds, but ideology, knowledge, and the ability to contribute to this green movement.