We do our part.

Another reason to be proud of community gardener’s efforts to provide our families with homegrown, organic produce at the cost of the sweat of our brows. Blogs Beth:

I learned in one of my classes [at the Northeast Organic Farming Association conference] that on average it takes ten calories of fossil fuel to get one calorie of food into my house. These ten calories excludes the energy used to store (refrigeration or freezing) and cook it. In the article by Norman Church, Why Our Food is So Dependant on Oil, Mr. Church points out that food that travels internationally bumps the ratio even higher. For example, when iceberg lettuce is exported to the UK from the USA by plane, 127 calories of energy (aviation fuel) are needed to transport 1 calorie of lettuce across the Atlantic. [ . . . ] It is also no secret that conventional agriculture uses large amounts of fossil fuel not only in its machinery but also in the manufacture of fertilizers, pesticides and herbicides. And we’ve not even mentioned packaging.

I’ve recently felt a little guilty about my plot and the abundance of good food it will produce, especially when I think about malnourished people as close as one mile away in D.C. – specifically the kids I taught last summer, who thought chicken nuggets and ketchup was a square dinner, and who for lunch routinely ate a slice of American cheese between two dry pieces of Wonderbread. I wish there was a way I could sneak an organic tomato or two into their sandwiches, toss a steamed head of homegrown broccoli onto their plates at night: guerrilla gardener!

Since I can’t, it almost feels like I’m hogging all the goodies. How dare I enjoy such freedom and bounty when others, who have no chance to garden, don’t even know the smell of fresh strawberries, or what a turnip looks like?

I know all our home plots are doing some good already, though: even if we can’t toss ninja-legumes through windows, then at least we can do good in other ways, by slowly enriching the world around us.

By composting our own kitchen scraps (and, if you’re like me, begging your friends to save theirs for you too), our compost piles are both keeping compostables out of landfills (compostables account for about 38% of landfill mass) and enriching the earth around us. We are even ameliorating the nation’s rapid loss of topsoil (As Chouinard sees it: “There’s a race between running out of water, topsoil or petroleum. I don’t know what’s going to be first. Or maybe it will all happen at once.”). Not if more people join the ranks of home gardeners, it won’t.

And speaking of compost, by making the choice to garden organically, we gardeners are keeping harmful chemicals out of our watersystem and boycotting – in a teeny way – both producers of the stuff, and commercial farmers who use the stuff. I bet you’re even giving away your excess produce and keeping your friends healthier, if it comes to that.

But I hadn’t thought about the more global environmental impact of our home gardens. By eating homegrown, we’re cleanly bypassing all the petrochemicals that have become inextricably entangled with our system of agriculture. (I don’t even drive to my garden; I bike. Shovel slung across my back like a strange medieval sword).

I knew vegetables were supposed to be good for you. -grin-

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