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Can Our Veggie Gardens Feed us in a Real Crisis?

Can Our Veggie Gardens Feed us in a Real Crisis?

Musings from someone who has tried and failed to grow all their own food

A haul from the Author’s urban farming operation in Portland, Sept. 15, 2007, set out for CSA members to pick up (Photo C.H.White)

This is one of my all-time most popular essays, originally written in July, 2019, in response to massive flooding in farmland in the US Midwest but reposted several time since then because there’s always some crisis underway that can negatively affect farming. This year’s news peg is the fact that March was the tenth month in a row that set a record for hottest on record.

Whenever there’s a crisis that might affect the food supply, people suggest to “plant a garden.” If only it were that simple.

I used to be a small-scale organic farmer so take it from me: totally feeding yourself from your own efforts is very, very challenging. Though some friends and I tried over multiple seasons, we never succeeded, or even came anywhere close.

First of all, consider what you eat. Yes, you. What do you eat at home? At work? When you go out? Okay, what percentage of that can be raised in the bioregion where you live? If you have trouble answering this question, don’t feel bad. I would guess that the proportion of the US population with practical agricultural knowledge is lower than in any other society in history.

Looking at the subset of your current diet that can be grown in your area, is it enough to live off of? Is it well-balanced and does it provide enough calories? If not, what will you add to fill it out? This is purely an exercise of course, but there’s the rough draft of the menu you’re going to survive on. How will that work? I mean logistically?

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

Olduvai IV: Courage
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Olduvai II: Exodus
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