Saturday, October 29, 2011
Grow Some Economic Savings in Your Own Backyard
Roger Doiron of Kitchen Gardens International has a subversive plot. Subversive refers to his attempt to transform the established social order, its structures of power, authority, and hierarchy when it comes to food and gardening. Roger’s plot has the potential to radically alter the balance of power, not only in our own country, but also in the entire world. His plot is about creation and openness, not about being secretive. Roger’s plot can only work if he shares it with as many people as possible.
Roger suggests to us that gardening is a subversive activity. Food is a form of energy; it is what runs our bodies. Food is also a form of power. Therefore, when we encourage people to grow some of their own food, we are encouraging them to take power into their own hands, power over their diet, power over their health, and some power over their pocketbooks. Therefore, we are subversively talking about taking that power away from someone else, from others in society who currently have power over food and health.
As the world’s population continues to increase, there is a fundamental shift taking place. As of 2007, we went from being primarily a rural planet to being primarily an urban one. This reality has implications for how we are going to feed everyone and how we are going to get the food to people in the cities. Roger talks about the issues of growing the food we will need and how our natural resources link to it all. How will we solve these issues?
One thing we need to do is to redefine what “good food” is, where it is grown, when, how, by whom, and for whose benefit. A key message is that gardens grow good food; food that is safe, food that is healthy, food that is gorgeous and delicious.
Another important message is that gardens grow healthy kids and families. Gardens help children to learn where good food comes from, and can teach them how to grow some of that food themselves. Gardens also grow important economic savings for families.
The question becomes if gardens grow all of these wonderful things, then how can we grow more of them. The approach of Roger’s Kitchen Gardens International organization is to use the gardens and gardeners we already have to inspire and grow even more. They endeavor to do even more than that by helping to connect people online in forums. They are also bringing people together in gardens for World Kitchen Garden Day to learn from one another and to experience a garden as a community activity. Kitchen Gardens International is working to grow the next generation of gardens both in the United States and abroad.
However, Roger feels that still more needs to be done. He states that we need to find ways to increase the percentage of produce coming from gardens. At the peak of the Victory Garden Movement that took place last century, 40% of all produce came from backyard gardens. Rogers says we can get there again!
We need to reorder our federal food and agriculture policies and priorities. There are currently billions of dollars spent to support only a handful of commodity crops, with a very small amount going to fruits and vegetables. This is disgraceful! We need to do something about this imbalance of priorities.
Roger suggests we can start by looking at the tax code, since we are already using it to encourage green transport and green shelter. Why not use it to also encourage green food. In addition, if we are going to talk about another stimulus package, why not implement a garden stimulus package!
We also need to move down to the local level and ensure that gardens are legal; unlike earlier this year when a mom of four in Michigan was cited for her raised beds garden. She nearly faced a 93 day jail sentence because her gardens beds were planted in her front yard. Another disgrace!
We need to update the laws to the present times and to the realities we are currently facing. We also need to figure out how to get those people without yards into gardens.
Maine is leading the way in setting garden entrepreneurs free. Earlier this year a number of Maine towns passed local food sovereignty laws that not only allows town residents to grow food where they want to grow it, but to also sell it the way they want to and to whom they want to sell it. This may be an incentive to get gardeners to scale up if they know they have this financial freedom.
We must also work on identifying who is missing from the Food Garden Movement. The current demographics of the movement are 75-80% women. What clever and creative ideas can you come up with to get the men in your family to get out into the garden? Food is at its best when it is delicious, but also when it is shared as part of community. Gardens can help us to get back some of that community vibe.
“Increasing access to foods that are healthy for us and the planet is the biggest challenge we face. Kitchen gardens will be a key part of the solution and represent a cost effective investment. Everyone has a role to play in planting and promoting them. Grow your subversive plot today!” ~ Roger Doiron, Kitchen Gardens International
You reap what your sow. Plant wisely and share with others.
Posted at 3:20 PM