Saturday, December 12, 2009

Connecting to the Life Cycle

It has been three years now that I was having lunch with an activist friend who's current fight was the battle over the proposed path of I-26 through our town. I had told him all about my garden project but after listening to his activist stories, I said that I wished that I had time to be more active like he was. His response pushed me into new ways of thinking about my garden. He said, "You are growing food in the city. You are already doing a radical and activist thing."
Up until that day, I hadn't thought that was I was up to could be considered "activism". But that day opened my mind to the bigger picture of the world and where I fit into it. And so began my Urban Plot to set an example for my neighbors and community on just what can be done with a city lot.
When I bought my house I was overwhelmed by the size of the front lawn. This photo, a great before shot, shows the lawn as it was when we first moved here. The lot is the better part of a half acre and the house is set back on the back third of the lot. It is in a little neighborhood just 4 miles from the middle of downtown. This neighborhood was farmland until the 1920's when the land started to be broken into lots with little houses.

The front of the house faces West, so I have great South and West sunlight all day long. I started small four years ago with a 20' X 20' area... it has grown! The areas planted in edibles now exceed 4000 square feet.... more than 4 times the size of the house.
I work with "Low Work" methods so that I still have time for other things in my life. No tilling, lots of mulch, minimal watering. It works for me and we are eating well.
Here is a photo that show the bones of the garden in early Spring this year. I love photos of the verdant, abundant summer growth, but in the winter and spring it is easier to see the skeletal structure of the garden.
I talk with lots of people who think that they cannot possibly grow food. I have the advantage of having grown up with parents who always had a garden and canned and put up food. I grew up thinking that this was the norm. But you too can grow food. Do you have houseplants? Add a vegetable plant to your menagerie of house plants, maybe a tomato plant or pepper plant, and some herbs. Start somewhere and see where it will take you. Every little bit helps and will help you see the big picture. I think that anything that connects us to the life cycle and adds a degree of self-reliance, affords us a fuller life experience.
My own Urban Plot has become a journey of awakening. A growing awareness of the food security issues that our country and the world are facing including the invasion of pesticide and drug residue in so much of our food supply, not to mention the consequences of modifying the genetics of seed and animals. The beginning impetus of my garden project was simply to find a way to feed my daughter healthy food that I could not afford at the grocery store and to teach her about where food comes from. It has become SO much more. 


mtn lulu said...

We bought a place in Hendersonville a while back and the yard was so overwhelming, of the 2+ acres about 3/4 was grass. I refuse to mow all of that. So this first summer we dug out about a 25 x 25 foot space and started by planting stuff that will come back every year-strawberries, rhubarb, asparagus, red raspberries and blueberries. We also planted cherry trees and paw paw trees. We are composting a huge spot and are determined to make the entire yard an edible landscape. I am happy to hear there are others in the area that feel the same.
I subscribed to your great blog to watch how you are coming along. How exciting!

MN_homesteader said...

Great post Beth! We are no where near 4K feet, but should be breaking 1200K this year. More people need to realize they can grow their own food with little effort.