Let me guess - you can't possibly grow all of your own food. You are in excellent company. I can't either - yet. I can't even come close - yet. But, remember the apartment-dweller with the tomato plant? We can start somewhere. Every tomato we grow ourselves or buy from a local farmer is a tomato we don't have to buy from the industrial food system. The beauty of opening our eyes and learning about what's at stake is motivating - the health (not to mention environmental) dangers of our cumulative, long-term exposure to pesticide residues, the lack of nutritional value (and flavor) in a hybrid-variety, ethylene-ripened tomato trucked in hundreds of miles from a farm in South America in January, the terrifying unknown of GMOs (genetically modified organisms), the state of our depleted and abused, chemically fertilized mono-crop soils. If we start by learning about these things, that education will lead to motivation. That motivation translates into action in different ways for everyone depending on their own set of circumstances, constraints, and passions. That action, no matter how small it is, is empowering and will birth more action if we want it to, because if our education leads us to believe that something is important, we will make taking action a priority. When we understand the reasons why we are doing things, we can start small, and soon we can look back and realize just how much more we are capable of doing than we thought in the beginning.
I have lost count of how many house plants I've killed. I used to say it was because I inherited a brown thumb from my mother (she can kill a cactus like no other). But that's an excuse. Keeping my house plants alive was never important to me, so I neglected them, and they died. Why wasn't it important to me? I guess because I didn't appreciate them much. I didn't buy most of them - most of them were given away to me or given as gifts. Once I started learning about the issues with our industrial food system and resolved to buy as much produce as I could locally from my farmer's market, I had the education and motivation to want to start a garden. My whole life, I never understood people who grew vegetable gardens. I thought it was the boring person's idea of fun. I was too busy and important to be bothered with that. I go to a fancy desk job so I can afford to buy my vegetables at the store and be done with it. Besides, we all know growing your own veggies doesn't save money.
Can we put a price tag on the self-sufficiency and independence that comes from knowing how to grow our own food? From the security that comes from knowing exactly where that food comes from and how it was grown? And do we recognize the true ecological, social, cultural, economical, environmental costs of that pesticide-coated, mushy tomato from hundreds of miles away beyond the price indicated on the grocery-store shelf?
Here's my baby-step garden revolution. I took the challenging route and started everything you see here from seeds. There are few things that fill you with the awe of our Creator more than seeing a green sprout of life push up through soil from a seed you planted with little confidence in its ability to grow under your care:
Self-watering containers on my balcony. Even though I have a house with land that can be (and one day most definitely will be) used to grow, I wanted to start small and manageable until our yard is ready for that. I found these food-grade plastic buckets for $1 each from a woman in my neighborhood on Craigslist.
Bush beans, spaghetti squash, lettuce.
Tomato and spaghetti squash.
My ten buckets of freedom.