Thursday, April 11, 2013

Garden Goodness

In the spring of each year, north or south hemisphere, there is a natural preoccupation with things natural, things of the dirt. It is after all, in the lowliest of substances, dirt, that the most vital things in our lives are produced and consumed to the benefit of all creatures.

Whether you are experiencing autumn or spring at the moment, your focus is the same, the produce of the earth. In the planting and subsequent harvest season, each may feel with himself a connection to that most elemental soil of human life. In some cultures, it is the dirt itself that is sometimes consumed as a nutritional source of certain elements. While in the west, we are thoroughly indoctrinated in the "dirtiness of the dirt" it is not universally so.

Re-examining our gut reactions and views towards that simple substance, dirt, can be very revealing and enlightening. Many of us for reasons that are economic as well as sociological have a very minimal connection to soils, gardens or food production. We are nearly wholly insulated from what does occur to produce food before it appears on our plates.

The production of some or all of our food is something that past generations were well acquainted with. They knew about planting seeds, tending them and raising them to harvest. In the days before 'welfare' and 'social workers,' there was, in most communities, thought given towards those unable to provide for themselves. While the most destitute might find themselves assigned to a 'poor house' in which they lived and worked for their food, others through the natural community networks, established by where they lived, shared or bartered food in various ways; people shared knowledge about growing it, storing it and cooking it. Long before universities and 'food scientists,' many communities effectively determined the needs of health, and the food which might be consumed to acquire it.

Today in the 'politics of food' the base of this knowledge has been whittled away, now left to the experts, to 'agribusiness'. And yet many in our societies are not content with their food sources today. They question its quality, its origin, its method of cultivation-- and they worry. For some, food today is now a source of worry.

Many worry that they don't have enough or the right kinds of food, and worry about its healthfulness or availability. Some have advocated small community gardens, markets and localizing produce as possible solutions.
In the book, Small Plot, Big Harvest by DK Publishing the authors take home the idea that on a small patch of land or even an apartment balcony combined with a little know-how, one can produce a significant portion of ones' own food. This is a very valuable skill, the authors note, a life skill nowadays overlooked.

With excellent illustrations and simple explanation, Small Plot, Big Harvest, gives the most novice grower the confidence to experience the success and pleasure of producing their own foodstuffs, and nothing will taste any better than those produced and consumed by the same person(s)!
Once you learn to grow food for yourself, growing a little extra to share with others in your community is easy, so give it a go--surprise your self. Support community initiatives to allow small scale food raising in your hometown. Everything from honey bees to chickens, to small fruit orchards and vegetable gardens are important and worth consideration.

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