Local and sustainable food

I'm itching to get back out into the garden. It's time. I've been at meetings two days in a row where local food has been a subject. One was a city environmental committee and the other was an information meeting about our Clemson University Student Organic Farm.

Local food (and sustainability, however defined) are growing interests, even here in a relatively small, reasonably conservative, college town in the Southern U.S. This is a good thing. Our town is quite progressive, actually, and we're often a model for other small communities in our region.

Growing food isn't easy. It takes time and effort. And growing sustainably and organic means taking care of the soil, balancing energy inputs and outputs, and replenishing nutrients that are harvested (and consumed). My friends who are permaculture fans are on the right track, to be sure. We have LOTS of land in our cities and suburban areas that's 'wasted' on grass or on ornamental trees and shrubs that don't support wildlife.

I'm a great advocate of greening our community landscapes, adding plants (trees, shrubs, and perennials) that add both ecological (wildlife) value as well as providing food resources. Why shouldn't we plant persimmons or pecans, for example, in public parks and open spaces? Or use vacant land for community gardens?

At home, we've transformed much of our former lawn into wildlife habitat (with mostly native plants) and grow lots of vegetables in our organic vegetable garden. But this wouldn't sustain us without chickens, perhaps pigs, and a concerted effort to convert a LOT more lawn to vegetable gardens devoted to calorie crops (potatoes and corn are the most sensible crops for us, if we really had to be serious about it).

I don't really think that our big ag food system will collapse anytime soon, but it's definitely worth focusing on local food and supporting local producers.


  1. All good questions Lisa...Why can't we plant fruit and nut trees in public places or use vacant lands for community gardens? These are questions we keep asking our local gov't! gail


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