Now more than ever, it’s time to grow your own food.

This weekend I have been preparing for this season’s garden by ordering my seeds, getting some organic potting soil to start seeds, and then went out to my garden plots and began the process of cleaning them up a bit. My start would have been even earlier if I had a place of my own to start seeds. Better now than never though! Still in the raised beds were withered corn stalks, tomato plants, and sunflowers from last season. I leave them in so they begin to decompose as well as hold the soil in place in my raised beds. Now that they have been broken off, they have become new mulch for the paths between my beds.  As close to nothing as I can manage is wasted. When it all breaks down completely there will be some new soil in the paths that I can scoop onto the beds at a later date.  The winter here has been long and inordinately cold (second coldest February on record here in Lancaster, PA) and I am ITCHING to get dirty and see things green and growing again. That itch led me today to direct seed some radishes, lettuce, and peas from seeds remaining from last year. I couldn’t help myself. Soon the seeds I ordered from Baker Creek ( and the Seed Savers Exchange ( will be here to add to my gardening frenzy.

As a permaculturist, I am an advocate for localized food production and converting energy sucking, poison soaked, mono-cropped lawns into gardens. To me this is common sense due to climate change, peak oil, and other potential disruptions to the supply chain.  Yet we in America are often complacent due to cheap food at the local supermarket delivered from miles away via long distance trucking. Climate change (it’s real despite what James Inhofe would have people believe) however is changing the game as is seen in California where a massive drought has sucked the land dry in the world’s 5th biggest economy. What does that have to do with the rest of the country? Because of California’s heretofore favorable climate, it has long been known as America’s salad bowl. An enormous proportion of the fresh vegetables and fruits consumed in America come from California. Even here in Lancaster County, a place with a very good local food movement and some of the very best farm land on Earth, one can find in conventional grocery stores all kinds of produce from California. Without water though, California farmers and many people who have been overly reliant upon them are going to be up a creek without a paddle. What to do instead?

The answer is simple. For those who can, i.e. those with yards, grow your own food. Dig up that unnatural, overfed lawn, and grow as much food as possible. For those in places without a yard, join a local organic CSA (community supported agriculture) or start shopping at farmer’s markets for locally grown organic produce (it pays to support organic growers who do not pollute your local environment).  Sign up for a permaculture course, volunteer with a nearby organic farm to learn how to grow tasty, nutrient dense vegetables, lobby municipal leaders to create space for community gardens and eat as locally as you are able.  Food security is REAL security and food security begins right where you live. Putting all our eggs in the industrial food basket is a recipe for disaster. The sooner we as a nation realize this the better.

CNN on the California drought




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