A Journey to Grow a Little Food Close to Home

Why is this important?

So...why, you might ask, am I so into growing? It seems as though several things have happened in my life in a very short time that have drastically changed how I think about things.

First, not too long ago, I was thinking about my grandfather.

Grandpa would have been 89 this year (2010) and grandpa grew up on a farm. I didn’t really know what to think when I realized that just 80 years ago, when my grandfather was 9, he completely understood every aspect of growing food year round for a family when today, kids don’t know the difference between a potato and a tomato (check out Jamie Oliver if you don’t believe me).

Thoughts of one grandfather led to thoughts of the other. In Germany, about 5000 miles away, I have another grandfather who also grew up on a farm knowing how to grow food. In fact, he had this knowledge only 70 years ago!

I began to wonder what had happened in the world since 1940 that made it so that I did not have this knowledge too. Was I the only one or was it normal for people my age to just not know these things?

My mom always had a small garden when I was a kid, but it was rather haphazard (yes…even she admits this). My dad knows that if you put a plant in the ground and water it, it will grow (usually). Beyond that, the wealth of food growing knowledge that my grandfathers had was never really passed down.

How crazy is it that since 1940, 2/3 of all the farms (and with them the growing knowledge) in America have vanished. Even crazier is that only 2.5% of all of the people in America grow the food to feed us all. What happens if something goes wrong with those 2.5%?

Second, I watched Food, Inc.

If you’ve seen the documentary, you know that that is enough said. Without giving anything away, however, I will say a little more about it. Having worked (ok…more played) on a friends farm as a kid, I knew that some farms grew things ‘the old way’ and many had modernized. I knew what fertilizer was and that pesticides keep bugs away. In fact, on one level or another, I knew a lot of the information in the film. Put it all together in one place, though, and...well...you’ll have to watch it for yourself.

Third, I am a newish father.

As a father, I have come to realize that I am scared for my children. In a world with e coli and salmonella on grocery store spinach and beef, with childhood and teen obesity on the rise, and with global warming and pollution increasing at an alarming rate, I am really scared for my kids. Every parent wants a good life for their kids – maybe even a better life than they had. How was this going to happen if my kids were going to grow up in a world where they had to be worried about the food they ate and the air they breathed, let alone the really bad stuff like war and natural disasters?

I’m lucky, though.

That’s right. Amidst all of that, I consider myself lucky. In fact, I consider everyone in my generation not only lucky but also really important. People living right now have the opportunity to change all of the negative things that you just read.
Because the old knowledge hasn’t quite been lost!!
People alive right now are a sort of bridge between the past and the future. My grandfather is 84 and he has A LOT of knowledge about growing. My kids are little and can be taught this knowledge. It’s up to me…and you…to make it happen.
I know that a lot of information is out there about the environment and conservation. I know that buzz words like urban farm and urban homestead are all the rage right now. All of that knowledge is super-important and it will be referenced in this blog when it fits.

What I am trying to do, though, is to make all of that stuff do-able for you and me.

I like my yard. I have kids and they like to play outside. I have parties for my friends and family. I don’t want to rip my yard out to build a homestead.

I love the idea of owning a micro-farm and growing clean, wholesome food for the neighborhood and changing the world one step at a time...but it probably won’t happen. I have a day job that pays the bills and that I actually kind of like!

All I want to do is give my family a life that is healthy, environmentally sound, and even save a little money along the way. I want to help the economy by bringing food closer to home rather than paying to ship it from other countries. I want to take a load off of the few farmers in the country who have a a lot riding on their shoulders - feeding all 308 million of us. I want to teach my kids a lifelong skill that will help them know a little piece of history as well as empower them to look to the future.
For my part, I think a kitchen garden can do all of that.

Come learn along with me!