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Thought For Food

If you’re at all like I am, I grew up having friends and family in the farming community. I got to hang out with cows in the pasture, was chased by geese while trying to cross the yard, drove tractors and simply enjoyed the freshest produce possible. And when we were no longer near our family-run farm, my mom always had a garden planted. Nothing quite tastes like “summer” to me than a tomato fresh off the vine.

The move to self-sustainability has seen a recent increase in families gardening. Some have turned their balconies into vegetable or herb gardens. My own roof balcony has wild mint for us (and cat grass for Lila) growing on it. Here in Tokyo, it’s quite common to see a vegetable garden growing on a lot between two houses. City farming is not simply common here, it’s encouraged.

Some of you may have read a recent article on Mercola’s site that discussed the problems being faced by urban gardeners in some areas of North America. In Drummondville, Quebec, a couple planted a beautiful garden in their front yard, only to be told by city officials that they needed to dig it up because it broke city bylaws. Dirk Becker in B.C. faced similar problems after he took a 2.5-acre gravel pit and, over a decade, healed the land to create a vast organic garden landscape. He was threatened with jail for that. There are other incidents and it’s worth both reading the Mercola article and other sources to get a better understanding of the issues at stake.

That, however, is not what today’s article is about. I mentioned the downside of it because it is such a counterpoint to my experiences. Although North Americans seemingly have lost their connection with the soil and no longer find gardens attractive, the same is not true for other parts of the world. Consider, if you will, the fact that what North Americans call a “yard”, the English call a “garden”. Really stop and think about that.

During my frequent travels to Austria, I was constantly reminded of the urban gardener by the existence of communal garden plots scattered throughout the cityscape. These were areas where families would go to work the land and then sit back and enjoy some quiet time. It’s a lovely pastime that promotes sustainability and encourages making healthful and productive use of unused land.

A town in West Yorkshire called Todmorden had such a surplus of unused land. A few people decided to do something about that and spurred on an entire movement within its population of 15,000 to reinvent their landscape, access to food, educate its young people and even generate tourism where none existed before. Please have a look at how Pam Warhurst and the town of Todmorden could inspire YOUR town to do something, too.

 

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