Monday, June 23, 2008

Gardening Quandary

To garden in the lawn or not?

Homegrown Evolution says:
In our cities negative space, the open spaces between buildings, consists of vast seas of parking and empty, unused lawns. We all tend to filter out these spaces, failing to comprehend their size and ubiquitousness. Thankfully there's a growing awareness that our city's negative spaces are in fact negative, that they contribute to blight, profligate use of resources and our general unhappiness.
But a consciousness shift is underway led by forward thinking folks like the parishioners of Holy Nativity Episcopal Church in West Los Angeles who have teamed up with the non-profit organization Urban Farming to rip up their entire 1,200 square foot south lawn to plant vegetables for the congregation and the LAX Food Pantry.
but also, at Alternet:

The edible-landscaping trend is catching on across the country, and with food prices rising, it has taking sadly predictable turns. A Boulder, Colo. entrepreneur, for example, has tilled up his and several of his neighbors' yards and started an erosion-prone, for-profit vegetable-farming operation. It will supplement his income, but it won't make a nick in the food crisis.

That's because the mainstays of home gardening -- vegetables and fruits -- are not the foundation of the human diet or of world agriculture. Each of those two food types occupies only about 4 percent of global agricultural land (and a smaller percentage in this country), compared with 75 percent of world cropland devoted to grains and oilseeds. Their respective portions of the human diet are similar.

What do you think? I'm a big fan of gardening, but the title of that piece (Turning Your Lawn into a Victory Garden Won't Save You -- Fighting the Corporations Will) is nibbling at my conscience. It's the same argument I've had with some of my back-to-the-lander friends: what you are doing is good for the environment and you, but you're doing it all alone. Here in the city we can reach many and do much.


Dawn on MDI said...

Oh fer chrissakes, plant food! Plant vegetables! Plant herbs! Plant pansies because they are both pretty and edible! Same for nasturtiums. Cheap, natural food does not have to be a political act. It can just be a really slow-moving trip to the grocery store. Fight the corporate world in other ways if you need to do that, but when a person has time on their hands (as you soon will) digging in the dirt and doing something healthy and productive will be great medicine for the soul. If backyard critters eat up the fruits of your labors, then you have had some good exercise, some time outdoors, and been kind to animals in the process. Hurrahs all the way around! And if some of what you plant grows into something that you can eat, then all you're out really is the price of some seeds. Count your time gardening as recreation time or pleasure time or therapy time, and not as time you should be paid for, and you'll come out way ahead. Give thanks to the earth for being so willing to give us food even when we treat her so badly.

Jen said...

Thanks for setting me, um, straight, Dawn. Of course most of the reason I garden is because I like it, and I like vegetables. But I had never encountered anyone saying that victory-type gardens were a bad idea, and I wanted to toss it around a little...

But I also think that gardening can't help but be a political act--for me anyway--in a place where I am otherwise so far separated from where what I eat comes from. Hm. Maybe next step is chickens?


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