“The greatest change we need to make is from consumption to production, even if on a small-scale, in our own gardens. If only 10 percent of us do this, there is enough for everyone. Hence the futility of revolutionaries who have no gardens, who depend on the very system they attack, and who produce words and bullets, not food and shelter.”
~Bill Mollison, Founder of Permaculture
January is almost over, the snow bells are in bloom and spring is around the corner. It is so exciting to start working on our urban garden in earnest.
- How much produce can 360 square feet yield?
- Can this feed a family of 5 for an entire 22 week growing season and beyond?
- Can growing our own save us money or even make money?
- Can this small garden also provide fresh produce for our neighbors?
Thinking & Acting Locally
If we think globally and realize our interconnectedness, we will realize how important it is to act locally. While working to change the political and economic situation which creates the causes of hunger in our communities and internationally, we must also cultivate grassroots food projects which help people build food security.
The most powerful grassroots force is communities coming together to take back some control over their access to a variety of nutrient-dense food.
Food security and the food system affect everyone in some way. As the world population increases (currently around 7.5 billion), new solutions to hunger including the maldistribution of available food and the cost of large-scale agricultural production (economic, environmental, physiological and social) will most certainly need to be addressed some time soon.
The terms local, sustainable, locavore and others are relatively new, at times, misunderstood and even ridiculed. But if we truly look at and honestly assess the impact that our shopping/consumer patterns are having on the entire system, we would walk away knowing that seeking out local, small-scale food producers or growing our own is an integral part of the solution.
“Grassroots projects in and of themselves do not change the forces that create high unemployment and inadequate social assistance rates. However, people’s lives are improved immediately through these projects by reducing food insecurity and enabling people to experience the power of working in coalition with others. It then becomes possible for them to envision themselves as activists for social change, working to create a just society in which hunger no longer exists. It is their critical perspective and understanding of the food system ‘from below’ which can shape a compelling vision and effective action for change.” Laura Kalina, Building Food Security in Canada: From Hunger to Sustainable Food Systems: A Community Guide, Second Edition, pg. 19
A Garden Starts with Seeds
Planning this year’s garden brings a smile to my face. Growing our own food last year was a liberating and joyful process, but I didn’t really have a plan. Last year was an experiment to see what would grow and where (in the different microclimates around the house) and what we actually used in the kitchen. We used a lot of tomatoes, kale, lettuce, spinach, sorrel, carrots, cucumber, borage (both the fuzzy leaves and the beautiful edible flowers), pumpkins, summer and winter squashes and zucchini.
Fresh herbs are essential in our kitchen and this year I am growing them using ‘hugelkultur‘, which is growing food on a mound or what I call my ‘herb hill’. Basil, oregano, verbena, thyme, marjoram, flat leaf parsley, cilantro, dill and lemon balm are some of my favorites.
Although I saved many seeds or shook dry seeds directly back into our already existing garden beds, I ordered some new Heritage seeds for our front yard urban garden project. My goal is to save most, if not all, seeds that grow well in our climate each season.
List of Heritage Seeds (vegetables & herbs):
- Hopi Red Dye Amaranth – this ancient grain grows well in pots and dried seeds can be easily ground into flour
- Calabrese Broccoli
- Chieftan Savoy Cabbage
- Scarlet Nantes Carrots
- Beit Alpha Cucumber
- Lacinato Kale
- Crisp Mint Lettuce
- Black Hungarian Peppers
- California Wonder Peppers
- Bloomsdale Longstanding Spinach
- Yokohama Squash
- Ronde de Nice Squash
- Golden Zucchini
~Grow with the Flow~
Kalina, Laura (2001). Building Food Security in Canada: From Hunger to Sustainable Food Systems: A Community Guide, Second Edition.