Friday, June 4, 2010

Grow Your Own

As you're probably aware, if you've read my posts this past week, I'm house-sitting a property just shy of an acre.

This involves care-taking a large yard with vegetable garden, young fruit trees, and chicken coop with 11 laying hens, 2 laying ducks, and one bossy black gander.

The advantage to my situation is having access to free-range organic eggs and young spring greens, which I've been incorporating into the meals I've been blogging about lately.

The additional benefit is the savings on my food bill. When you grow your own, or have access to a garden, as I do, your grocery bill is substantially less.

I think I spent around $40 at Whole Foods last weekend on fish, poultry and ground buffalo, organic apples, pears, a bunch of organic carrots, a pack of organic baby bell peppers, a loaf of sprouted Ezekiel bread and my favorite snack food, Boulder Canyon potato chips, plus a couple other small items.

It was May last year that I integrated into my posts information I heard Micheal Pollan, the food activist, share on local radio on the topic of eating a mostly plant-based diet, and when possible, plants you've grown.

I''ll reprint here three things he made a point of stressing on air:

1. Most of what we're eating today is not food.
2. Eat food, mostly plants, and not too much.
3. If you invest $60 in growing your own veggie garden, in the first year, you'll reap $200 worth of produce.

Embracing a backyard-to-table lifestyle means I'm most aware of point number three, that is the budgetary advantage to growing your own.

However, lots of people do not have a yard (I don't when I'm not care-taking others'). Yet the absence of one's very own backyard is no longer a barrier to planting, nurturing and harvesting organic vegetables.

For instance, community gardens rent small plots of earth where it's simply a matter of turning up, tilling the soil, planting, tending, watering, and harvesting your own. Check the American Community Gardening Association to locate a community garden in your neighborhood.

Or what about this: consider sharing your green thumb with a local farmer or vegetable gardener in exchange for fresh produce.

If you're in a big city, and thinking there's no way you'd ever have access to growing your own produce, check out the Urban Farming Program. Spear-headed by former singer and songwriter, Taja Sevelle, one of my favorites within the program is Edible Walls, a vertical farming project -- I mean how creative is that, growing produce in planters attached to the sides of buildings!

Maybe you don't have a backyard, but perhaps you do have a bit of front lawn and a flower bed. There's a local movement where I live called Boulder Community Roots which supports the conversion of lawns into vegetable gardens.

And if you live out in California, the latest trend is urban foraging. Maybe you won't get to till the earth, plant, nurture the crop as it grows, but foraging will give you the benefit of collecting surplus harvest from backyards, farms and businesses.

Check out these websites: NeighborhoodFruit and VeggieTrader and FallenFruit and consider implementing a similar program in your community.

Happy harvesting!

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