Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Growing Food - A Different Take

Our last survey asked "Which green-living practice has been the toughest for you?" The results show that growing food ranks as the hardest activity:

Toughest Green Living Activity Survey Results

The "other" category, which tied for first place, included these comments:
  • Buying eco friendly furniture!
  • I don't have the space to grow my own food but I do support my farmers market each weekend! :)
  • Purchasing goods that are local and affordable (clothing for example)- I compromise by purchasing a lot from goodwill, but the new stuff...it's hard to stomach purchasing a $150.00 dress (that is yes, beautiful and locally made) when you are on a tight budget.
  • Finding useful means of reusing "throwaway" materials That package items I buy, so that less is wasted, and less "needs" to be purchased.
  • While I only shop once or twice a year, I admit when I do it's usually just for basics at Old Navy or the Gap Outlet. So mine would be, shopping for gently used clothes instead.

There are many benefits to having a garden and growing one's own food. Even a small garden can supplement our diets. Fresh, organic vegetables are healthy, flavorful and reduce the strain on our planet.

Here's an idea which might surprise you ... growing food helps us reduce food waste. Why? Because while most people think nothing about tossing out molded fruits & veggies which were purchased at the market, we wouldn't consider tossing out a vegetable which we nurtured and watched grow.

Benefits aside, the obstacles to gardening make it impossible for some to take advantage of home-grown fruits and veggies.

Would you consider it a privilege to have a garden?

I read an interesting article about food insecurity which suggested that having a garden isn't simple for everyone, especially poor people. The author pointed out that people living beneath the poverty line barely have enough money to feed themselves let alone buy seeds. And what about space ... lower income families often live in multifamily housing without amenities like patios, yards or green spaces. If a landlord places little value on growing food then any request for garden space is denied. Community gardens often charge for a plot ... water costs extra ... and dealing with pests, even in a natural way, can cost money.

Other obstacles include time, storage (for the harvest and for gardening equipment), a person's physical limitations and knowledge.

I feel privileged to have a garden. I am aware that some cannot and that I am lucky to have the means to pay for seeds, plants, water, etc.

Perhaps the true green living activity isn't about growing food but rather finding ways to ensure that everyone has access to fresh, local produce. Maybe we share our harvest with others or volunteer to help start a garden or simply teach someone how to grow tomatoes. Maybe we donate our time at a community garden or purchase space for those who can't afford it. We can support edible gardens in our area ... places where everyone can harvest food for their table. We can share seeds, knowledge and even land.

Is there someone in your neighborhood who would like to grow food? How will you help remove their obstacles?