Did you know that only 10% of the fossil fuels used in the world’s food system actually goes into production? The other 90% goes into packaging, transporting and marketing. In North America the food comprising the average meal travels 2,400 km from place of production to the table. If you are aiming to become more self-sufficient and less dependent on the high cost of food that has travelled thousands of miles to the marketplace then consider starting a vegetable garden.
Though there is no straightforward, universally accepted definition of food security, most versions stipulate secure access to sufficient and affordable nutritious food. Such conditions for food security can be assessed on any scale, from a single household to the global population. Food security is built on three pillars:
- Food availability: sufficient quantities of food available on a consistent basis.
- Food access: having sufficient resources to obtain appropriate foods for a nutritious diet.
- Food use: appropriate use based on knowledge of basic nutrition and care, as well as adequate water and sanitation.
Roger Doiron is founding director of Kitchen Gardeners International, a network of people taking a hands-on approach to re-localizing the global food supply. Doiron is an advocate for new policies, technologies, investments, and fresh thinking about the role of gardens. His successful petition to replant a kitchen garden at the White House attracted broad international recognition. He is also a writer, photographer, and public speaker.
In the spirit of ideas worth spreading, TEDx is a program of local, self-organized events that bring people together to share a TED-like experience. At a TEDx event, TEDTalks video and live speakers combine to spark deep discussion and connection in a small group. These local, self-organized events are branded TEDx, where x = independently organized TED event. The TED Conference provides general guidance for the TEDx program, but individual TEDx events are self-organized.* (*Subject to certain rules and regulations)
TEDxDirigo – Roger Doiron – A Subversive Plot: How to Grow a Revolution in Your Own Backyard
What’s the best way for a complete beginner to get into gardening?
Growing your own food is a personal act of taking matters of health into your own hands. You will not only cut your food costs but you will also eat healthier. Growing your own healthy food is good for your mental health too as gardening is stress-relieving. Growing your own food is a family affair that’s a gift that gives on giving from generation to generation.
It’s a mistake to think that gardening is just for people with lots of land. You can grow your own vegetable and fruit crops, culinary and medicinal herbs in containers. Container gardening will allow you to grow food almost anywhere with less disease and pest issues. And, if you do have a yard then you can transform your lawn into food-growing garden.
Wherever you decide to garden companion planting vegetables with herbs and flowers will attract pollinators like bees and butterflies. It’s best to start too small with a kitchen salad garden. By selecting crops and varieties that are suitable to your growing region and being creative when it comes to effective use of sunny spaces, containers and water you can grow food in your own backyard, on balconies, decks and windowsills, in community gardens, in school gardens and in parks and other public green spaces.
Peas, beans, corn, beets, carrots, broccoli, kale, spinach and the lettuces are easily grown in most climate zones. They don’t require much space or maintenance, grow quickly, and produce multiple harvests in one year. If you build a cold frame from salvaged storm windows, you can even grow some salad greens year round. Dehydration, canning and freezing are all techniques you can use to preserve your vegetables and fruits once the growing season has given way to harvest season.