Thursday, May 2, 2013

Farmers Can't Grow All Your Vegetables!

Don't you love this poster?
I do.
This is a vintage British poster  
- but take a good look at that illustration. 
What it portrays is true today.

American farms have morphed into large conglomerates, growing wheat, corn and soybeans and almost nothing else. Even our larger Hampton Roads farms, small though they are by mid-West standards, rotate only those three crops.  If you haven't noticed, simply watch the fields around us each year to see what I mean.

Fresh fruits and vegetables, the things we all need to eat more of, are produced on only 2% of U.S. farms.

Why? Well, it's harder and it's costlier. Small fruit and veggie farms are not eligible for crop subsidies.  They can't get reasonable crop insurance. They have difficulty obtaining loans.  If you'd like to learn more about the problems small farms face, here's a link:  Ensuring the Harvest.

Every year, more of the fruits and vegetables you find in grocery stores are grown outside the country and shipped in - at increased cost and petroleum consumption.

How do we turn this around?  How do we make fresh fruits and vegetables abundant locally?

Well, for starters, let's all get ourselves to the farm markets and stands where our few valiant local fruit and veggie growers have their crops for sale. Here's the Hampton Roads guide to the best markets and farms around:  Buy it fresh, buy it local.  Have you noticed how many of our local markets are now open year around with fresh goods?  Let's be there!

Happy Earth Day!
Here's a really fun site:  World Food Garden: People Growing Their Own Food and Sharing How They Do It.  (Warning: When you open the site, the map often opens smack in the middle of the ocean. That's not a "blue screen of death" that's the Atlantic. Move out on the image and then you'll be able to navigate around.  I love, love seeing all the gardens worldwide that have joined!

Even though I'm scaling all my gardens back dramatically, you can bet that there will be veggies and fruits growing out here - and where ever I find myself - every season. There's nothing more local, and more fun, than growing your own food.

And any gardener will tell you - there's nothing like growing your own food to make you appreciate the folks who do it for a living.

1 comment:

  1. You nailed it Sybil! I enjoy reading about the third-order effects of things. Could our modern food system be an unintended consequence of the shift in our style of farming during the World Wars? And how do we shift it back!


The sharing of ideas, experience and helpful information between one gardener and another has always been the very best of gardening traditions.