Now that May is half over and all our garden beds have been filled with vegetables, fruit and herbs, it is time to pause and take stock of what is actually growing and to reflect on why we are growing our own and sharing it with others.
Why a Front Yard Garden?
This is our front yard. We decided to trade our weed-filled front lawn for six 4′ by 8′ raised garden beds filled with organic soil and home-made compost.
This is our experiment. We want to know how much food we can grow and whether this set up can provide enough for our family of five for a 22 week growing period and beyond.
My hope is that we grow enough produce for our family AND to share with our neighbours as well as those who face household food insecurity in our community.
Read more about our front yard urban garden project here.
What is Household Food Insecurity?
Not enough nutritious food on the table even though paychecks are coming in? Yes, this does exist in Canada. It is worse in some parts, such as the Northern Territories where two-thirds of children have very limited access to nutritious foods.
On Vancouver Island, where we live, research shows that 25 per cent of families experience some form of household food insecurity and have difficulty putting nutritious meals on the table as their money runs out long before their next paycheck.
Malnutrition in children and adults leads to poor health and mental health outcomes. Developmental difficulties as well as chronic conditions are directly linked to household food insecurity and increased health care costs.
Read more about Household Food Insecurity here.
Nutritious foods sold in ‘Farm Stores’ and Farmers’ Markets are expensive and out of reach for many working families and individuals attempting to manage chronic conditions through better nutrition.
Read more about Household Food Insecurity here.
These challenges are real. They are also opportunities. Growing our own as a way to gain independence and create greater food security in our community is indeed a revolutionary act. Thankfully, there are many people around the world engaged in such subversive grassroots action. Our family is on a mission to Grow, Share and Thrive.
This is our first year. Our total investment in this front yard urban garden was $1600 CND. This is two months worth of groceries for us. I know that this seems like a large sum (we saved and used many creative shortcuts). But this is a one time investment. Next year, our own compost and saved seeds will decrease the cost significantly. I see this as an investment that will pay off in the long run and benefit many.
My hope is to help others set up similar operations in their front yards; to provide them with free seeds, free seedlings, free compost (or help them create their own compost), to help them put together garden beds the most cost-effective way possible as well as an easy drip watering system that saves time and money.
I am heartened that people are interested in what we are doing. This year, we were able to give our neighbours tomato and strawberry seedlings as well as unused seeds to help them start their own urban gardens. Naturally, the biggest barrier to growing one’s own is time.
We specifically set up our urban operation to be non-time consuming. Once seeds and plants are in place, it’s water tap on, water tap off. Done.
Want to start your own urban garden? Read more about how to get started here.
Get even more inspiration for growing your own here.
What’s Growing in the Garden?
Cauliflower, broccoli, carrots, radishes, peas, beans, spinach, lettuce, cucumber, squashes of all sorts, watermelon, strawberries, sorrel, garlic, cabbage as well as 32 different herbs and perennials.
Here are some pepper blossoms. They are so delicate. We started the seeds for these from an organic green pepper we purchased at a local store (one way to get seeds). We started the seeds in used organic coffee grounds on our kitchen counter.
They start out so little.
Here is some dwarf kale.
Cauliflower which loved the cooler, damp weather that we had until yesterday when the sun found us.
This is a Gala Apple Tree. We got the seed from an store bought apple and started it in used organic coffee grounds on our counter. It’s two feet tall now. We have three of these started and have high hopes for adding to our fruit forest in our backyard.
These wonderful Cherry Belle Radishes are almost ready to be harvested.
Our first strawberry. Small but sweet and juicy.
My favorite flowers of all time with the fuzziest leaves ever are back. Borage has reseeded itself and is now growing wildly in all garden beds. The start-shaped flowers are wonderful for bees as they refill with nectar every 2 minutes. Another great nectar producer is Comfrey which refills every 45 minutes.
The fuzzy leaves of this plant are very edible and when I’m out of spinach, I substitute borage leaves when making palak paneer.
All photography by Jane Grueber