I hear this question a lot. Why bother to grow my own vegetables, when I can just go to the supermarket? Why bother, when I can get a CSA share, or go to the farmer’s market? I’m buying local and supporting my farmer. Supporting farmers is one of the most important things we can do. We need them desperately. The problem is, that they can’t do it alone. Small local farms can’t feed all of us.
In the current system, we don’t have enough farmers to feed us. We’ve all heard the statistics. The average farmer is in his late 50s, and we’re losing farmland at an alarming rate to industry and suburban sprawl. Chances are, your house is sitting on what was once farmland. My house sits on an old dairy farm. What we need to truly fix the problem, is for everyone to get involved. That means you. That also means not just consuming, but actually producing.
During WWII, the victory garden movement was promoted. Statistics show that at least 40% of the nations vegetables were grown in backyard gardens. Back then, it was advertised as a way to help out the nation. People dug up their lawns and planted tomatoes and squash. They preserved what they grew and fed themselves on their own little 1/4 acre lots.
Today, we have a new movement. References to Urban and Suburban Homesteaders abound on the internet. Once again, people are ripping up their lawns and growing lettuce and broccoli, instead of grass. Backyard chickens are all the rage. Why? Because many of us are tired of the direction that our country’s food supply has gone in. We want to, and do, support our local farmers. Part of that support, is not making them bear the brunt of all that needs to be done. We just simply don’t have enough farmland, or farmers. However, with every tomato plant you have in your backyard, or in a pot on your deck, or in a community garden, you are adding to the farmland that we have.
I’m not saying that you should drop your CSA’s and farmer’s markets. We need to keep supporting the farmer’s. My own garden is capable of growing a large portion of the fruits and veggies that my family eats, but I can’t grow it all. I’m proposing that you start growing a few things yourself, to supplement what you get from the local farmers. You can plant some herbs in your flower beds. Pepper plants are beautiful mixed in with ornamentals. Have a pot with some lettuce in your sunny window. It all makes a difference.
If you grow your own, why do you do it? If you don’t, why not? I’m curious about your reasons with regards to food.
Submitted by Heather Smith.