Sunday, July 11, 2010

Local and Organic: Our garden

Within the food movement, it's very common to hear a debate about local vs. organic. Which is better? More affordable? More sustainable? This is a debate that I've become involved in (and changed my mind about) on numerous occasions. The solution that I've now embraced includes both of those options. And not only is it local and organic, it's also affordable: gardening.

I know, I know—it sounds complicated and time consuming but really, it's not. I recently started my own garden at a community gardening plot here in Regina and I love it! Well, let's be honest, it's been a journey. I started off excited about the idea. Then, I began to stress out. When would we plant? What would we plant? What should be planted next to each other?

It took a little time (and several conversations with others) to realize that I had no reason to get all worked up. I had to be reminded that many people garden as a way to relax and unwind. I then reminded myself that plants want to grow; it is their entire reason to exist on this earth. And, once upon a time, before we began to domesticate them, plants grew on their own and “in the wild.” Our job is simply to make it easier for them to do so.

Anyway, I'm pleased to report that our garden is doing quite well! We're already harvesting spinach, cilantro, basil and radishes from our 20 x 10 foot community garden plot! We're expecting plenty more of those items plus carrots, tomatoes, potatoes, onions, lettuce, beets, celery, peas, lemon balm, oregano and broccoli. And because our plot is so small, it takes minutes to weed, harvest, water, etc. Finally, in terms of affordability, I would challenge anyone to find a more affordable way to eat fresh foods. Organic seed packets cost around two to three dollars (for a couple hundred or more seeds) and starter plants cost anywhere from fifty cents to two dollars.

However, I would caution against starting a garden if you feel that you are lacking in basic cooking skills. Cooking your own food is definitely a key first step so that you will know what to do with all that fresh produce! Next blog post, I'll address some ideas about acquiring cooking skills (other than just googling recipes and giving them a whirl).

If you do feel fairly confident in your cooking abilities, then I strongly urge you to grow at least some of your own food. You can start off small--herbs grow very easily with minimal care and many varieties of tomato plants can be grown in a pot outside. So, even if you don't have a lot of room (like if you're living in an apartment), you can likely make space for one or two plants. (And one tomato plant will yield plenty of tomatoes.) Whatever you do though, stay calm and relaxed (unlike me) and you will soon realize how fun and beneficial gardening can be!

If you might be interested and want some more info, check out:

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