Wednesday, October 5, 2016

Growing your own vegetables and abundant food

I live in a country with abundant food, to be sure.

We can buy practically anything that we want to eat, of course, if we have the $$.

And, at least in my food-centric and food-aware community, our regional and local food pantries have plenty of food of various quality, if you have need and can get to the distribution centers, whether they're non-profit fresh food distributors like the YMCA's Healthy Living food pantry and mobile distribution, or directly from Manna (our major regional food bank distributor). 

I've been thinking about this quite a bit over the last 6 months, as I've volunteered at a community garden in the Southside of Asheville, a low-wealth community, but one with resilience and promise.

Does a community garden make a difference?  Well, I don't really know.  I hope so!

The non-profit organization that loosely oversees the community garden received a Kresge planning grant last April as part of their FreshLo grant initiative -- a new one, using food, nutrition, arts, and healthy living to promote community.

I've marvelled at how productive this garden is, in its second season.  Scary, really, as we can barely keep harvesting and maintaining the garden with the ~ 6 or so regular volunteers (my friend and I are newbies this season).

But the harvest keeps going into the Southside Kitchen, which serves free/by donation meals 4 times a week, to large groups.

But I'm also mindful that it's hard work harvesting in a production garden, unlike my own small raised garden space (we're hard-pressed to eat everything that it produces, truth be told).

Snipping lettuce mix from long rows, cutting abundant Swiss chard, harvesting okra, etc. has both my hands and hips complaining.  This is not easy work.

Nor will building the hoop house on Saturday, I think.  Picking up supplies today (lots of 2X4's) was heavy work for me, I'm afraid.  Geez, I need to get back to lifting weights, I guess.

But, my thoughts this evening are really around Big Food, as Michael Pollan writes about today in the NYT, vs Small Food, which is the emerging local farms/local growing movement, which is still small, but growing.

These are thoughts which will continue to percolate.

Yes, I can buy a beautiful red bell pepper for $2 at my local supermarket from Mexico (and can't grow anything that looks even close to it, in my warm summer climate), although I can grow nice poblanos, pimentos, etc.  Should I not buy it?

I have a personal initiative about always eating from my garden first, before buying other vegetables, but onions, garlic, mushrooms, and peppers, are frequently extra additions.  Add to that potatoes, rice, wheat flour, etc.

I ground wheat berries into flour recently for some quite delicious muffins, but I didn't grow the wheat -- I wouldn't have had the space.

All musings, to be sure.

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