He cleared out a little piece of our property, dug up our soil and put in a garden box. He started with one box of tomatoes. He will tell you that he had no idea what he was doing but wanted to give growing our own food a try. What inspired him to do this, he really can’t say…it was like a light switched on inside of him and then there was no switching it off.
My husband is the type of guy that takes action. He never does anything with half an effort, he is always full steam ahead. I really admire that about him. After his first gardening season, he realized he needed to arm himself with knowledge and take more action. My husband read gardening books, ordered gardening movies and read up on everything gardening related on the internet.
So here we are, four years later, and the progress is astounding. We’ve gone from one garden box to twenty-four. My husband cleared out a huge amount of brush, dug up tree stumps, dug up all the soil, assembled the raised -bed garden boxes, bought and assembled a green house, and now we have 1,000 square feet of gardening space. Quite a leap I’d say!
Here is what we grow: tomatoes, six types of lettuce, watermelon, 500 strawberry plants, five apple trees, six blueberry bushes, five grape plants, spinach, basil and other herbs, celery, carrots, one pear tree, butternut squash, cucumbers, onions, broccoli, eggplant, peppers, sugar snap peas, green beans, peanuts, asparagus, sweet potatoes, russet potatoes, alfalfa sprouts, corn and almonds.
Like I said, my husband never does anything with half an effort!
He delved into the task at hand. His gardening efforts affected our family’s life in many ways. Our family eats more healthy, we save money by not shopping for these items at the grocery store and what I love most of all, even more than the delicious taste of the food, is that my two little girls see what a hard-working man their father is.
My girls see the fruits of my husbands labor. It is so important to us that our children grow up being self-sufficient. My husband has said many times that he wants our girls to know how to grow their own food so that they don’t need to rely on anyone else. We both see the value in teaching our children life skills, and gardening is a life skill.
Our little girls, ages five and two, love gardening. They both have little baskets they fill with strawberries and sugar snap peas. It is such a pleasure to watch them follow my husband around and listen to him educate them. There are times our two-year-old is a little rough with the plants but she is learning, and seeing her pluck fresh sugar snap pea, after pea, after pea and eat them all up is completely heart warming.
During World War II, American home gardeners, through the federal government’s Victory Garden program, supplied 40 percent of the nation’s fresh produce.
The recent food crisis in Cuba, precipitated by the collapse of Soviet in the early 1990s, is another historical example that shows us how we can achieve food self-sufficiency through re-emphasis of backyard farming. When the Soviet Union collapsed in 1990, Cuba’s economy went into a tailspin. With imports of oil cut by more than half, and food by 80 percent, people were desperate. The Cuban people transformed their way of life through using organic methods of farming and local, urban gardens.
With the cost of food getting higher and higher, now is the time for action. Backyard gardening is cheaper, tastier and therapeutic.
When you grow your own food, you know what you are eating, what products were used in growing it and when it is ripe. My family uses only organic fertilizers, organic pesticides if needed, no chemicals are used on our lawn and we make our own compost from the garden waste completing the cycle. My husband even installed a drip irrigation system in our garden so that it will water itself.
Have you ever considered why that tomato in the grocery store is hard to the touch and lacks taste? That’s because it has been genetically modified to hold its ripe stage during the cross-country trip to your grocery store. The downside is that the longer the ripening cycle the lower the nutritional content. This is all before you consider the chemical fertilizers and pesticides used during the growth stage. This is how most grocery store produce is grown.
Another point worth noting is that my husband uses non-hybrid seeds. Why do we use non-hybrid (open pollinated) seeds versus hybrid varieties? When you grow open pollinated (non-hybrid) varieties you are growing original strains with much higher nutritional content. As a consumer of produce you have no way of knowing whether your hybrid produce has high, medium or low nutritional content.
The other benefit to using open pollinated seeds is the seed from the harvest can be reused the following year. Hybrid varieties have been genetically modified to include terminator genes which prevent use for the subsequent season. This would require us to purchase more seed for each season.
Furthermore, the current economic crisis may come to a head in the food supply system. If the economic downturn continues to be inflationary, the cost of real goods, like groceries, could skyrocket. Savable, re-plantable seeds are simply a requirement in food security for the individual, family and community.
Desiderius Erasmus once said, “in the country of the blind, the one-eyed man is king.” Well, I have a new saying more pertinent to our time: “in the land of the starving, the man with the seeds is king.”
What do you believe is at risk if we don’t grow our own food? If we all grew our own food, could it put an end to poverty and reduce health issues? If so, what is stopping you?
This is an original post to World Moms Blog by Courtney Cappallo of Massachusetts, USA. Courtney can be found homeschooling on her blog, Table of Four.
The photographs used in this post are attributed to the author.