Living a greener lifestyle with organic gardening

Alex is a motivational speaker and ­advocate for lifestyle skills and home safety training, a free-lance journalist, and the co-founder of the National Kids Construction Club. He holds a Master of Science in Real Estate from the Kogod School of Business at American University. Alex welcomes your questions and the opportunity to speak to your organization. He can be reached at

More often than not, companies like Whole Foods or Chipotle come to mind when looking for organic or GMO free (genetically modified organisms) foods. For those who might be like me – you like to try new things and prefer organic foods – maybe it’s time to consider growing our own fruits, vegetables and herbs. It seems fairly easy and fun, and it’s good for you too! If my 88-year-old grandfather still cans his fresh strawberries, picks edible mushrooms in the forest and grows his own tomatoes, there must be hope for us Millennials. 

Over the last 25 years, farming has evolved and changed. For example, smaller, organic farms appear to be on the rise as are urban farms in places like Brooklyn and Philadelphia. A few builders are even creating communities with land set aside so owners can grow their own organic vegetables. Surprisingly, some small farms are being gifted to their towns as educational facilities in which to teach local residents how to grow their own food.

How big do you want your new garden? When considering a place to live, one of the more aesthetically pleasing items to add to your wish list can be your own organic garden. In order to make a successful garden, you need to identify what’s the right style for you. For those living in a suburban setting with ample green space in your backyard, the sky’s the limit for what you want to grow and how you want to display your garden. For large spaces where you have the ability to add some curb appeal within your garden, it makes sense to match your existing outdoor exterior with that of your garden in the making. 

For those with less space, such as a condo, you could make a green room in the interior of your home if you have some spare space and window availability. A green room not only provides a change of scenery from the rest of your home, but still gives you that feel of having the outdoors closer to you. If none of these options appear possible, add some spice to your life by buying organic foods from a local farmer or community garden.

For nearly five years, I’ve had the privilege of studying and residing in DC, home to American University’s award-winning Arboretum and Gardens. Over 100 different trees and plants surround me whenever I walk to class. This arboretum exposed me to beautiful gardens, sustainable landscaping and a great environment to feel at ease and relax in. While creating your own organic garden may not be as glamorous looking, it’s definitely a good change of pace from playing video games and texting on your cell phone, and it offers so many other kinds of creative possibilities. 

As organic and GMO free foods grow in popularity, why not explore the possibility of creating you own fresh and inexpensive organic foods? Don’t you think you deserve to eat healthier foods? Joel Salatin’s humorous book, Family Friendly Farming, explores the landscape of clean food and clean land. Consider exploring organic gardening; it’s much better for your health and it’s a great way to create a more interactive dining experience!