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Wednesday, May 21, 2008

G Y O: Grow Your Own

Here's a list of good reasons to grow something - ANYTHING - at home:

1. It just tastes better;
2. It's relaxing and rewarding;
3. It reduces your carbon footprint;
4. It reduces demand on the agricultural industry, thus easing the strain on the environment;
5. It just tastes better.

There are more good reasons, but just to be balanced, lets consider the cons as well:

1. It takes time, patience and care to keep anything alive and growing well;
2. Not everyone has the space to grow a lot (though most people have the space to grow a little);

That's me out of cons. Comments in the positive and negative will be appreciated. :)

Here's the historic- enviro-political side of it: The Industrial Revolution was the single most significant change in social dynamics since nomadic herders thought to build houses inside walls and call them cities. The IR saw a mass migration of rural people into the cities, where they went from growing and gathering their own food to working in factories and relying on an emerging transport industry to relocate food to them from the countryside. The Oil Age simply mushroomed this trend, until now, 100+ years later, the majority of the population of the Western world wouldn't know where to start if they had to plant a vege garden. We rely on an increasingly mechanised agricultural industry, which is driven to meet demand and extend profit margins. In doing this, it continues to consume disproportionate resources and to pollute and sterilise the earth that it works. As a result, those same toxins that deaden the earth and have turned the central prairies of the Continental United States into a dustbowl and poisoned New Zealand's waterways make their way into our food, and into our bodies.

As the true impacts of Peak Oil start to bite, we will notice more of what we have been seeing for the past year, specifically soaring food prices as a result of rising fuel costs and the demand for crops for biofuel. How people and communities respond to this will be a matter for serious debate, very soon. It already is.

In parts of England, Europe and the US, there are entire communities that are self-sustaining, producing their own food, generating their own power from solar and wind, and recycling ALL their waste. Ultimately, this Self-Sufficient Carbon-Neutral Village concept will present itself as a viable social model in a Post-Oil Age. However, the reality is that the process of urbanisation that started in the 1800s has left about 95% of us city-bound, with neither the financial resources nor the knowledge base to remove ourselves to the country and start a new life. The question is; what can we do right now?

As with any major change in our lives or our societies, we must start by taking baby steps. The simple answer: grow what you can. Pot herbs on a windowsill, grow tomato plants on the balcony, plant a lemon tree. The first great shift in social dynamic before the nomads built cities was when the hunter-gatherer cavemen started planting crops and harvesting them to provide a more certain source of food. If cavemen can do it, then so can we. What is a city apartment but a glorified cave, after all?

Over the past 5 years or so, we've successfully grown corn, strawberries, tomatoes, lemons, beans and all sorts of herbs, on the small suburban sections that we've lived on. We've just planted out broccoli, carrots, and cauliflower in pots for our winter harvest, and on the weekend I'll be planting pumpkin on the top of the section.
It's a start. And aside from all the other reasons, my main desire to grow and pick and eat food that we've grown ourselves is still the most selfish one: It just tastes better!

3 comments:

morgue said...

See also the Square Foot Garden:
http://wellingtonista.com/square-foot-garden

Dan said...

Thanks for the tip Morgue. Link direct to the Wiki page is In The Kitchen.

Dan said...

Also, another link (completely unsolicited) for those in apartments too small for even the Square Foot:

http://www.aerogrow.com/