Revolution! Take Back Your Freedom and
Grow Your Own
In the US, backyard vegetable gardens are still viewed mostly as a hobby – an activity that you can engage in to get away from your daily grind, get your hands dirty, and spend some time in nature. But this is rapidly changing, thanks to a growing movement of people who are not only in love with the process of gardening but also the literal fruits of their labor.
Yes, homegrown food is fresher, tastier and, often, more nutritious than produce shipped from across the globe. But gardening is much grander than that, as it puts you in control of a commodity that is, at its very essence, survival, freedom, and health.Growing your own food is the way of the future, ironically, by getting back to our foundational roots of self-sufficiency and oneness with nature.
It’s Time to Start Planting Your 21st Century Victory Garden
During World War II, many foods, including
butter, eggs, coffee, meat, and sugar,
were rationed by the government. There
were also labor and transportation shortages
that made it difficult for enough fresh produce to be brought to the market. And
so the government called on Americans to
plant “victory gardens” in order to supply
their own fruits and vegetables.
Unfortunately, when the war ended so, too, did many Americans’ gardening efforts. Today, Americans largely tend to their lawns – all 35 million acres of them. New York Times author Michael Pollan was one of the first to tackle the absurdity of the pursuit of lush green lawns. Pollan says these are a “symbol of everything that’s wrong with our relationship to the land” – over environmentally friendly and productive landscapes like vegetable gardens, meadows, or orchards. Unlike a vegetable garden, which gives back in the form of fresh produce and a symbiotic relationship with soil, insects, and wildlife, a lawn gives nothing, yet requires significant chemical treatments and meticulous mowing and watering to stay within society’s confines of what a properly “manicured lawn” should be.
New York Times food columnist Mark Bittman has pointed out that if only 10 percent of Americans converted lawns into food-producing gardens, it would supply one-third of America’s fresh produce. That’s quite impressive … revolutionary even. In the 21st century, as increasing numbers of people are growing fed up with industrial agriculture, dissenting from our monopolized food system by planting your own backyard garden may be the only path to good health … and freedom.
As TreeHugger reported: Thomas Jefferson was a gardening enthusiast, but his passion for growing food went beyond his own backyard. Apparently he believed that America was incapable of true democracy unless 20 percent of its citizens were self-sufficient on small farms. This would enable them to be real dissenters, free to voice opinions and beliefs, without any obligation to food producers who might hold their survival at stake.
Sadly, in 2014, we are further than ever from that self-sufficient ideal that Jefferson hoped for. By contrast, Americans now tend 35 million acres of lawn (approximately 54,000 square miles). Lawns are the biggest “crop” in the U.S., covering an area three times greater than corn, and yet they are essentially horticultural deserts, with nothing for little pollinators to find but fatal pesticides.
2014 Is the International Year of Family Farming
Growing your own garden or participating in a community garden is a great way to improve your health, help build a sustainable food system, and support our planet as it struggles to make room for increasing numbers of us. Food grown in your own garden is fresher, more nutritious, and tastes better than store-bought food – and you can’t beat the price!
Urban gardens are key to saving energy, protecting water quality and topsoil, promoting biodiversity, and beautifying both densely populated communities and rural areas. Remember, plants are our richest source of natural medicine. You can become your family’s own “farm” quite easily. Most people are shocked at how much produce can be harvested even from relatively small spaces.
On a global scale, the United Nations has designated 2014 as the International Year of Family Farming to bring attention and recognition to the family farmers that are helping to nourish the world. There are more than 500 million family farmers worldwide (these farms are about five acres in size).
The good news is that small farms are actually increasing around the globe, giving hope that our planet may begin to heal from the assault of industrial agriculture, which is water intensive, erodes soil far faster than it can be replenished, and creates an abundance of corn, wheat, and soy – not nutrient-dense, diverse crops. Small farmers are unique also in that they adapt to work with the land and the conditions that nature gives them – something that is vital to growing food for the planet’s population.
According to a Food Tank report: Whereas large commercial farms tend to be predominant in high potential yield areas, small holder farmers and family farmers are often the stewards of marginal lands, and use their knowledge and abilities to sustain production under challenging circumstances. Not only are smallholder farmers in a unique position to contribute to the global food supply, but empowering smallholder and family farmers is a vital step toward improving nutrition, increasing incomes, protecting and enhancing biodiversity, enhancing soil quality, conserving water, and mitigating and adapting to climate change.
You Can Single-Handedly Create a Healthier Diet for Your Family
As Food Tank put it, “all farmers can have a direct impact on nutrition through the crops that they choose to grow and consume,” and this is true even if your “farming” extends only to a few containers on your patio.
Traditionally, women in many cultures have been in charge of maintaining family gardens, and through their choices of crops can directly impact their family’s nutrition as well as support biological diversity in their communities. Of course, men, too, can take on this role – you only have to be willing to get your hands dirty.
You can be, in essence, your own “family farm” and in so doing help to protect indigenous crop varieties while boosting your health. According to the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) of the United Nations, about 75 percent of plant genetic resources have disappeared, and another third of crop biodiversity may be gone by 2050! It is therefore crucial that small farms take back control of crop variety and plant more nutrientdense crops in lieu of the fields of corn, wheat, and soy. And in your own backyard, you can start to do this by replacing your lawn with food-producing, and other native, plants. It is becoming abundantly clear that farms embracing crop diversity and integrated systems of agriculture are the solution to sustainable farming of the future.
Food Tank explained: Studies from Bioversity International and FAO show that smallholder farmers utilize farming practices that preserve biodiversity not just for its own sake, but also because cultivating a wide variety of species helps insulate farmers against the risk of plant disease, and crop diversity promotes soil health and increases yields. In addition, utilizing integrated farming systems, in which a smallholder farmer produces grains, fruits and vegetables, and animal products, can be between four and ten times more productive than large-scale, monoculture operations. Yield advantages for polyculture operations – farms growing multiple crops in the same space – are between 20 and 60 percent.
Bringing a Bit of Farming to Your Own Backyard
Virtually everyone can bring out their own inner farmer by starting a garden. It may seem like an inconsequential move in the grand scheme of things, but if even a minority of people begin to produce some of their own food, it can make a drastic difference for the environment and your health (not to mention freeing you from reliance on a broken food system).
You don’t need vast amounts of space either. Even apartment dwellers can create a well-stocked edible garden, as you can use virtually every square foot of your space to grow food, including your lateral space. Hanging baskets are ideal for a wide variety of crops, such as strawberries, leafy greens, runner beans, pea shoots, tomatoes, and a variety of herbs. And instead of flowers, window boxes can hold herbs, greens, radishes, scallions, bush beans, strawberries, chard, and chiles, for example.
Just start small, and as you get the hang of it, add another container of something else. Before you know it, large portions of your meals could come straight from your own edible garden. I recommend getting your feet wet by growing sprouts. If you want to jump right in outdoors, Better Homes & Gardens has a free All-American Vegetable Garden Plan that can be put into a 6x6 area. It’s a great starting point for beginners.
You can also visit a few local plant nurseries around your home, especially those that specialize in organic gardening. The employees are likely to be a great resource for natural planting tips that will help your garden thrive. If you prefer not to garden, for whatever reason, then you can still jump on board the sustainable agriculture movement by frequenting farmer’s markets and small farms in your area. The idea is to get as much food as you can from your family farms or your own backyard, as every meal that comes from a sustainable source is one less produced by the destructive force of industrial agriculture.
Reprinted with permission from Mercola.com.