This article was first published on Oxfam’s 3things website on 23 April 2013. It was written for Oxfam’s GROW campaign, which creates awareness of the changes needed to fix the broken food system. Eating seasonally and locally, to reduce the environmental impact of our food production and consumption, is the first of six steps to a better food system. This article is Australian-centric but it translates to our international food habits. You can find the first installment of my GROW series on my blog here and on 3things here.
Buildings push farms away from the cities, making eating and buying local increasingly hard. But there’s one way to keep it ultra-local and to “print your own money” (thanks Ron Finley), and that’s to grow your own.
What better way to re-connect with your food than to sit in the garden (or your mother’s), like I did on Easter Saturday, stuffing your face and staining your hands red with home-grown fresh raspberries. I remember my mother used to take me into the garden to sow broccoli and lettuce with me, and I’d wait for weeks for them to pop their heads above the dirt.
For a while I’ve been thinking about having land someday so I can produce my own food. Mind you, I’m good at eating and certainly not gardening despite my mother’s help; I now kill cacti for god’s sake (I didn’t mean to).
With houses being pushed together and up and more people coming to live in the cities, there’s no better time to start your own garden. And the truth is that you don’t need a huge space for it (see rooftop garden movement Green Up Top for example). My mum gardens on under an acre and we could make it even more self-sustaining if we wanted. Give it a go! I’m going to.
As George Bernard Shaw put it, “You see things; and you say, ‘Why?’ But I dream things that never were; and I say, ‘Why not?’”
What can you do?
- Why not try community gardening to cultivate community?
- Read One Magic Square (extract) or Backyard Farming on an Acre (more or less).
- Research Urban Agriculture, Urban Farming, or Reasons to Grow your own Food.
- Enter the Reclaim the Curb competition or Grow It Local campaign (add your veggie patch to the mix).
- If, like me, you need a little more help, find workshops like Small Space Gardening and Reducing Food Waste, or ask questions at your local farmers’ markets. It can be easy.
- Find more info on the GROW challenge here and sign up if you feel so inclined.
Do you grow your own food or do you plan to? Any tips for novices like me?