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A Win Win Win Situation
Grow Your Own Food!

You get the very best there is to eat.
You make a real contribution to improving the environment.
You begin to take back power to act in your world.

A Home Gardening Polemic

Food tastes best, nourishes best, when it is absolutely fresh, and it canít get any fresher than vegetables and fruit picked in your own garden. Flavor is fullest, vitamins are at their peak. No store can match the quality of fresh picked produce at any price. At best, it is days, often weeks away from the field. If you garden organically, you know for sure that it contains no toxic pesticide residues. Your home grown vegetable and fruit havenít been chilled, stored, treated, packaged, transported, held in inventory, or handled by others and possibly contaminated. Money canít buy produce that is safer or more pure than home-picked fresh.

Home gardening conserves precious resources, improves the environment and adds wealth at no environmental cost. Consider fuel savings, for one. Grocery store items travel, on average, more than 4000 miles before reaching the shelves, traveling by truck, train and airplane burning scarce fossil fuels and dumping megatons of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere, and thatís after the fuel burned by tractors in the field and the petrochemicals going into the chemical fertilizers and pesticides used in their production. All of that petroleum is saved and those emissions avoided when you grow food at home.

Then consider soil and water. Conventional agriculture is notorious for bringing about wholesale soil erosion and draining rivers and subsurface waters with insatiable irrigation needs, and large scale irrigation projects waste scandalous amounts of water in evaporation and runoff. Chemical fertilizers and pesticides contaminate streams and subsurface waters and create intractable environmental problems. By comparison, the micromanagement possible in the home garden can take full advantage of natural rainfall, minimize evaporation and runoff, and requires least added water, producing greater per acre yields than commercial farms. Organic gardeners improve soil texture to hold water and eliminate erosion, and put nothing harmful into groundwater.
Consider air. Living plants are net oxygen producers, and they absorb carbon dioxide from air overburdened with CO2 emissions, storing the carbon in their flesh. Consider wildlife. The garden is a friendly place, for birds, frogs, field mice and other critters which have been displaced in paved urban environments.

Finally, consider the remarkable process of growth in the garden. Beginning with just a seed, and invoking the processes of nature, sunlight, air, water and soil minerals come together and ďgrow,Ē bringing into existence a valuable product which did not exist before. Unlike a manufacturing process, which utilizes a building and machinery, consumes raw materials, and requires labor to produce a product, the garden acts pretty much on its own, needing a gardener only to place the seed and direct the water at appropriate intervals, perhaps contributing a bit to the store of available minerals, and reducing competition in the form of weeds. And unlike factories which dump pollution into air and water, and demand all sorts of auxiliary services such as packaging and transportation, the garden produces its product and improves the environment at the same time. What a gift!

Gardeners develop an attitude, a penchant for acting on their own, which grows into a new, empowered approach to the world and its problems. All too many of us are frustrated, angry and depressed by political trends which ignore pressing environmental and social problem and make them worse by catering to the forces of greed. For far too long we have spent our energies trying to petition our government for change, meeting nothing but failure. We know that our anger is self-destructive and doesnít faze our political enemies, but we have been feeling helpless, probably because under this old paradigm of writing to congress we have, in fact, been helpless! Now it can be told. The more we garden, the more we leave the anger behind and feel the power of actually accomplishing what we know to be good.

Because I did what I did in my garden, I can say, ďI personally signed on to the Kyoto accord, and because of my actions, there is less carbon dioxide pollution and more oxygen in the atmosphere. I have done my bit to stop soil erosion, reduce pesticide contamination, conserve scarce water resources and improve my own health. I know that millions of people can do what I have done, and that if they did, the effect in improving environmental and health conditions would be enormous. I can quietly stand as an example to others that this is true and possible. I am winning in the struggles that matter to me most!Ē

Absolutely EVERYONE can do something to accomplish these transformations! Conceding that many people donít have enough time or space to home garden most of their food, there are compromises that are almost as good. There are roof gardens and patio gardens for apartment dwellers. There are pea patch gardens for those who donít have space at home. But people who know they really canít grow a significant part of their own food can find neighbors in their communities who can. Community supported agriculture (CSA) refers to personal farmers who have committed to producing food for town dwellers who buy shares in their output. Farmersí markets are in most communities during the summer months providing access to fresh picked produce. Local stores and restaurants are responding to consumer demand for local foods, and will respond more as that demand increases.

Local food is a security issue. Transportation cost can only rise in this era of peak oil, and the cost of food from distant locations must rise with it. Eventually, fuel scarcity may lead to interruptions in supply, and food scarcity. Quality of processed foods is certain to decrease as manufacturers try to keep their products affordable. This may be scaremongering, but sometimes itís appropriate to be afraid. There are many products we could do without, and some would say do much better without, but food isnít one of them. Itís crucial to have a local food supply.