You are going to quickly realize that this blog piece is not just about food but it is about people making changes thru the way they think about their food and the way they garden!
Twelve years ago I moved into a suburban neighborhood with homeowner association rules and fees and a town that does not like boats, travel trailers, and any other large vehicle parked in the yard and loves well-maintained grass lawns. I loved this neighborhood because it did not have curb and gutter; looked like a New England country lane or at least my idea of one in the South and it had big white oaks that were at least 80 years old and most importantly, it was near the baseball field where my sons spent all their extra time outside of school.
Over those twelve years I established 14 raised organic garden beds in various sunny spots around the trees in my yard. I shared fresh vegetables with my neighbors. I made fermented foods, canned, pickled, froze, dehydrated, jammed, jellied any fruit or vegetable I could grow myself under shade trees or buy from local farmers. I made cheese, bread, butter, grew my own transplants from seeds I saved. I shared seeds and transplants with neighbors. I joined a CSA and got neighbors to join the CSA with me. I helped neighbors join community gardens and helped them during their first year of planting to learn to garden. I visited all the local farmer’s markets and then told people in my neighborhood which farmers had the best organic carrots, beets, mushrooms, goat yogurt, cheeses, meats, herbs, fish, Padron peppers; whatever people wanted to eat I made it my business to find out who were the best farmers, which markets they attended and when, and I told my neighbors and friends about them! I started caring for a hive of biodynamic bees. I would have chickens but my town has not allowed that yet. We are working on getting the town council to allow chickens. I am a ground warrior (pun intended).
There is lots of talk about food and local food and healthy organic food these days. I know we need to communicate and writing is a way to encourage and inform people to take action but I find people take action when they see it and can use their senses to feel it in their body, mind and soul. If someone else can do and show others over time without judgment, people will figure out what they are comfortable to change and will make those changes.
Each year I have seen slow but deeply rooted changes occurring in my typical suburban grass coated, 2 car, and 2 to 3 children neighborhood. Other signs of change included raised garden beds coming in back and side yards, less grass being grown and going to natural area, less pesticides being applied, more questions about what I was doing and why I was doing it and more beehives being added.
This year I saw something that let me know my neighborhood was taking another huge step forward. Another neighbor was truly committed to and had experienced the passion for fresh vegetables and a level of food quality we all deserve. You see this neighbor’s house is completely shaded and although he and his wife had begun to garden in a community garden the previous year, they were so smitten with growing fresh food they were compelled to resort to car gardening.
The only sunny spot in their entire yard is the place where one of their two cars is parked. With complete blind passionate abandon for gardening and fresh food, my neighbors had seeded greens in two large containers and grew them on the hood of their car. I was overjoyed and delighted! A small rebellious act for growing – food, confidence, love for life and plants.
This car garden marked change and a willingness to claim their health, happiness and right to grow their own food in my mind. There is no Homeowners Association rule against growing vegetables in pots on your car! And more importantly my neighborhood is quietly changing. There were no load noises, no fights or feuds, no media coverage to announce this change. There was just slow steady organic change. This was everyday people making decisions to change, to learn and grow. I encourage you to quietly go about growing – your food, your confidence, your right to have healthy food and be the change. Find your sunny spot and grow something good and healthy to eat! Get closer to your life!