Sandra’s cousin Mike has a back yard that I would like to see featured in one of those glossy landscaping magazines as a change from the usual manicured shrubbery and prim beds of flowers. Mike grows beans and squash, and a whole range of vegetables, behind his house. He has a grape arbor and a greenhouse, and he harvests food not only for his own table but also for his Aunt Tina and other relatives.
I survey Mike’s back yard with envy as I have had no luck with my own agricultural pursuits. Oh, I can go to Home Depot or Wal-Mart, pick up some flowers and stick them in the ground. And some of them even last a while. But I have no luck with anything edible. I can’t even get herbs like basil and mint to survive, let alone tomatoes and pole beans.
I blame the shade from the grandfather oaks and the lack of nutrients in the sandy soil, but I know it’s my own damn fault. I just don’t have the commitment (and know-how) Mike has. Growing food apparently takes a lot of commitment – not to mention back-breaking labor and a hefty upfront investment.
I doubt you can save much money (if any) by growing your own stuff. But I read a report today that shows “hobby farms” are proliferating in America. (Remember how Michelle Obama converted part of the White House lawn into a vegetable garden?)
More and more people are being turned off supermarket produce because they suspect the stuff may not be safe. The report I read talked about genetically modified seeds, banned pesticides that are still permitted in foreign countries, hazardous fertilizers and dubious farming methods that contaminate crops.
It’s a dangerous world out there – driven by unrestrained greed and a lack of responsibility. In their relentless attention to the bottom line, global agricultural interests resort to risky methods and abusive practices. And retailers don’t care how the food is produced; they buy in the cheapest markets as they always have.
I won’t go into the details because they’re too sickening, but if we thought about the way livestock is raised on those big industrial farms, we would never again eat meat, fish or eggs, or drink milk (a mild example is illustrated by photo at right).
No, we can’t all raise our own livestock or farm our own fish. Most of us live in urban areas with rules against that kind of thing. But in most places, we are permitted to grow a few vegetables in the back yard (photo below). And we should -as a protest against the agricultural barons. If enough of us took the trouble to put in a kitchen garden, we could send a message to the industrial farming complexes. We might even get through to our tone-deaf politicians.
If they wanted to, the politicians could create a more friendly environment for hobby farmers. They’re adept at offering tax breaks to big business, for one thing. And the U.S. Government doles out subsidies totaling billions to industrial farming interests. Why not give the back yard farmer a tax break? Or a subsidy?
With encouragement, the day might come when people grow their own food again – not only at farms big or small but also in back yards… Maybe, even on housetops. I read recently that “green roofs” are proving a big energy saver for public buildings. Maybe homeowners could plant crops on their roofs… Yes, I know I’m getting carried away. But wouldn’t you like to stick it to those monsters who abuse animals and endanger our health, and are rewarded with subsidies and tax breaks?