One of the easiest ways we can minimize our impacts on the planet and also perfect way to obtain a yield is to plant a garden. I am lucky to have a yard right here at home and an owner willing to let me garden here. If you have a yard, turn your mow space into a GROW space! The benefits of gardening are many and include: a greater connection to the Earth, our food, and the living beings under our feet. There is also the wonderful benefit of physical activity that comes from gardening (especially in the initial phases such as digging up the grass) and the excitement that comes from watching the garden come alive. There are so many things living in the soil and gardening allows us to get up close and personal with them! Once we’ve been made aware of the presence of so many beneficial worms, bugs and microbes it becomes impossible to conceive of pouring poisons on them.
Planting a garden can also be a great way to spend meaningful time with family. Many hands make lighter work and that is also true in the garden. I enjoy all the projects that make a garden come into bountiful fruition. It’s even better when others join in. Then when the fruits and veggies start to come forth in their abundance, many hands are welcome again. It’s great fun to pick and process beans, tomatoes, or any other kind of produce from the garden. We could all stand to get to know both our food and one another better!
Gardens also help build resilience. During World War II people all over America and the UK planted gardens. It was seen as patriotic. These days because of the ecological challenges we all face we need that same kind of fervor to grip the nation and the world to get more people planting gardens (amongst other things). It’s clear we have to reduce the number of “food miles” (the number of miles it takes to get your food from the field to your plate) due to dwindling sources of fossil fuels. Because fossil fuels are used to create fuels, fertilizers, and the chemical sprays used in conventional farming most of the food purchased in the local grocery store is drenched in oil. Something has to give, it might as well be our societal addiction to mowing lawns.
Imagine if every suburban yard in the “developed” world had a garden and every city had urban farms/gardens available. All of the marginal land that is now being farmed could be put back into more ecologically stable uses. Bio-diversity would increase, consumption of fossil fuels for diesel, fertilizer, and eco-cides would fall thus improving eco-system health on a broad scale. People’s health would improve, communities would flourish as those same people became more engaged with their local bio-regions. The more one looks, the more connections become apparent.
Planting gardens is a great way to make a small change for tremendous effect. I’ve designed mine with nature in mind–i.e there no mono-crops nor straight lines here just like in a natural ecosystem. My plantings are often scattered, or in organic shapes, spirals, snaky lines and so on. I also try to utilize companion planting and I plant far more seeds than recommended on the package. Plants drop loads of seeds in hopes that a few will survive. I garden the same way. Pests find it much harder to devour a crop when their preferred foods are hiding behind a plant they dislike or when there are flowers and herbs to attract predator insects that feed on plant pests.