It seems like wherever I look on the Internet, I am seeing articles and websites encouraging me to try growing my own food as a way to have a positive impact on the environment. Of course this makes me wonder “what is different about backyard produce vs. grocery store produce?”.
According to my research, by growing your own organic fruits and vegetables you are cutting out a lot of the resource intensive parts of your personal food chain. Using organic growing methods not only doesn’t harm the environment with toxic herbicides and pesticides, but it actually enriches the very soil you are using. Harvesting from the backyard does not require the use of tractors to work the land (unless you have a really big backyard, I guess!) or airplanes, ships and trucks to bring the harvest to the store thereby saving on all of that gas and subsequent pollution. Sounds great so far, right?
The problem I have with this idea is that I am not sure my relatively small backyard could possibly provide the quantity, quality or variety that my family wants to see on the table. Even more daunting is my history of only very modest success with previous attempts at veggie gardening. Can a novice farmer with limited space grow enough to satisfy a family of four? To answer this question, I turned to the internet for information and I was excited to find that there are a variety of methods available to someone in my situation.
I found Permaculture which is defined as “an ecological design system for sustainability in all aspects of human endeavor. It teaches us how build natural homes, grow our own food, restore diminished landscapes and ecosystems, catch rainwater, build communities and much more“. I also found something called S.P.I.N. Farming which stands for S-mall P-lot IN-tensive Farming, meaning just what it sounds like – small growing area, lots of food. I found information about Vertical Farming which is a hanging gardens concept. I also found Gardening By the Yard, Urban Homesteading and Small Scale Farming. In fact, what I really found out is that people have been figuring out how to feed themselves with very little growing space since the beginning of human civilization.
I’m not sure which way to go with my own garden, so I will be putting some time into researching each of these options to decide what I think will work for me. I have even signed up for a Permaculture introduction class that will be held next week. Stay tuned for my report on that class as well as my thought on the pros and cons of some of the other methods I mentioned.