Not so long ago, eating locally was not that important. Today, most of us want to eat fresh, local produce, and preferably year round.
So where is it?
We look around and ask, “Where are all the big growers?” Well, there aren’t any.
Why aren’t there more farmers at our farmers’ markets? Well, growing food for market is tricky up here. The lack of fresh local food is real.
For instance, have you stood aghast before the empty shelves in the produce department of one of our grocery stores the day after a storm which prevented the trucks from coming up the mountain to make a delivery? If you have, then you know how dependent we are on imported food.
But take heart; things are changing.
A movement is afoot (albeit subtle and small) and it well could be right in your backyard. We have written about this trend in previous issues of Natural Living, but most recently the movement has taken on a different personality and is manifesting in a surprising but healthy way.
If this area is not conducive to large farms and food companies, then we will meet our demands one planting container, one back yard garden, one community garden, one shared green house at a time.
Not in our 20 years living and working in this area, have we at Lodestar Gardens been asked so many questions about gardening, hosted so many curious people on a tour of our place, or witnessed such an influx of folks who are seriously ready to live a more sustainable lifestyle.
We suspect that this movement is not only inspired by practical need for tasty, healthy food to eat, but it is also spurred on by another kind of hunger aptly described by Michael Brownlee in “The Local Food Revolution: How Humanity Will Feed Itself in Uncertain Times.”
We suffer from a different kind of hunger, a deeper, existential or spiritual hunger that is too often unspoken, unconscious and ignored. Silently we hunger for meaningful connection with the earth. We hunger for connection with the cycles and processes of nature, for connection with the sacredness of life. And we hunger for connection in community with each other.
Yes, a movement is afoot to learn how to grow our own food and the response to an awakening food consciousness in our area. It is a deep appreciation that the food we eat should not only taste good, but also serve as medicine for our ensured health, has resulted in food-growing education in our area in a variety of venues — classes, workshops, tours of farms, community gardens, county extension classes and online podcasts and websites. It also has prompted people to embrace the old-fashion method of holding a book in hand to spawns the imagination and trigger visualization.
We can’t wait for the big farms to come to us; each of us must take charge of our health and grow our own food or join with others to grow food together.
For the present, we don’t have time to organize expensive legal entities such as cooperatives — we’ve tried — but the networking will be an organic outgrowth if everyone starts growing food somewhere with someone.
If you haven’t started this process, then make 2017 the year you find the gardening information that will help make gardening a joyful and productive activity for you.
Our experience informs us that visiting a garden operation and talking with experienced growers is one of the most effective ways to get motivated. There is so much information out there and we live in such a unique climate with such challenging soil, getting a mentor, a coach or just someone to call when you have a question is a great confidence builder and training tool.
Seeing is not only believing; it is a fast-track educational approach. In addition, you will meet other very cool and exciting people — much like yourself.
- Frame of Mind: Don’t assume what worked elsewhere will work here. Start with a clean slate and an open mind.
- Find A Mentor: The nearest grower, farmer or gardener closest to your home. Arrange to visit them and ask many questions. You will be surprised at how glad they are to help you. There is a tremendous amount of quiet local wisdom in our communities.
- Research: garden education opportunities in your area — many are free of charge. Check out local magazines, newspapers, community college courses, extension office offerings, garden clubs, local nurseries and libraries.
- Join: Plug in, attend, collect information, network with others, attend farmers’ markets. If you are so inclined, start a neighborhood garden group of your own. Take it from us — the topic of growing food is a comfortable way to get to know your neighbors. Start a food village of your own variety.
- Data: Get a soil test. Don’t spend a lot of time and money on soil supplements, pest deterrents, and irrigation apparatus until you know the composition of your soil.
- Invest in Magic: At different times of day, walk around in your garden area or in the area that will become your garden. Observe the sounds, colors, texture of the earth, wind, slope or shape of the area. Visualize walking through the future garden you planted, inhaling the garden fragrances, touching the soil with your hands and feet, watching the sunlight glitter on the dew, listening to the rustling leaves, chirping birds, and the laughter of children. This energetic investment is essential to establishing a relationship with your garden.
- Start Small: Growing larger is easier, wiser, and more fun than straining to maintain.
For more information on organizations that can help provide food producing information, go to our website at http://lodestargardens.com.
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