21 June 2006

Spinning an Idea: Victory Gardens

Observation #1: Americans eat poorly and most super market produce tastes like, well, nothing--mushy nothing.

Observation #2: Most people who feel the need to have giant suburban yards don’t do anything with them. They are temples to the goddess of grass. They suck up huge amounts of water and the chemicals used to treat them run off into nearby streams and wreak havoc on watersheds.

Observation #3: Suburban sprawl is chewing up green space at an alarming rate, pushing people further from their jobs (and purchased food supply), requiring more gas and more roads.

Why not take these three modern dilemmas and solve them all in one fell swoop? If everyone who chose to have a big yard was required to cultivate their own Victory Garden think of what could be accomplished. Families could improve their diets with fresh, delicious, wholesome produce right from their own yards. Water that would have been wasted on grass could be put to productive use. Demand for cardboard produce and all of the energy necessary to pick, sort, store, ship, store, ship, display in the grocery store and transport home would lessen.

If folks with big yards were required to keep a certain amount of it in food cultivation, it might also make people think twice before taking on a house with a big yard. In a way it is applying the same logic that serves as the basis of the bestselling book The Not So Big House by Sarah Susanka. That is: most people only use a fraction of their very large houses. Why not forgo the double height living room that everyone thinks they need, in favor of a smaller house of better quality and design. People want yards for many reasons. To those that use them, good for you, you have achieved the American dream. For those of you who don’t: why do you feel the need to live there? Why not move closer to work, shopping, schools, and other things that a more compact neighborhood would afford you.

I will get off my sprawl soapbox for now. No doubt there will be more of it to come in future posts. In the meantime, if you would love to be closer to your fruit and veg, check out local opportunities to buy direct from farms. Community Supported Agriculture programs exist all over the country and allow you to purchase locally grown produce right from the source. In some cases the farms even allow (or require) you to help with the cultivation.

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