Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Grocery Shopping in the Backyard - Garden Update July 2011

There is almost nothing as satisfying to me as walking out my backdoor and harvesting a weeks worth of produce, at almost no cost. Lettuce, cucumbers, green beans, zucchini, summer raspberries, tomatoes and herbs, all abundant and ready for picking in my backyard urban garden. Since we built our raised beds last year, there have been very few costs associated with growing food this year; a few bags of nutrients to amend the soil, some pouches of seeds, and a little bit of (pleasurable) work every few days. We didn't spend more than $75 and have gotten a whole lotta return on our investment! 
(check out one of the more bountiful evening harvests from this month, below)

Beyond just the money we save, the impact that it has on my children, and the neighborhood kids who stop by to munch is unquestionable. They love the fresh vegetables, and enjoy picking them too (notice my son hugging the tomato plant, he actually told me to wait to take the picture so he could do that...) It doesn't get much better than this.
In recent years, the urban gardening and local food movement have been largely associated with middle or upper middle class white folks. This should not, and need not be the case. Growing food used to be a necessity for poor people, but with urbanization, the establishment of housing projects, and generations of knowledge being lost, both about growing and cooking food, well, it is going to take some work to bring this process back into the lives of the general public, but it is happening now across the country, and will continue on, I have no doubt.

I recently attended an event at Common Ground High School where I spoke with a parent of one of the students. She said she now grows food at home, inspired by her son. For every school garden or urban farm there are dozens of families who will start growing their own food. To me, that is reason enough to get involved.
For information on a few great urban farming and gardening organizations you can check out:

Growing Power - Milwaukee, WI
Nuestras Raices - Holyoke, MA
The Food Project - Lincoln, MA
Edible Schoolyard - Berkeley, CA + more
Added Value - Brooklyn, NY
Brooklyn Grange - Brooklyn, NY
Grow New Haven - New Haven, CT
New Haven Farms - New Haven, CT

Are you growing anything this season? Leave a comment below.
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  1. The images and words are beautiful, informative, entertaining, and provide a welcome and fun break. I love to read your blog! Thank you for your work on this and all you do for the community!

  2. Absolutely awesome!!
    Last year we grew broccoli, well we tried....our then 4 yo was so excited that as soon as there would be a little floret he'd eat it!
    Thanks Tagan for sharing your success and encouraging others.

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  4. Great inspiration, Tagan.
    Couldn't agree with you more!

  5. your garden looks beautiful! we tried this year with one small 3'x3' raised bed in the yard. beautiful organic soil, some enriching nutrients...the seedlings were promising when they sprouted inside, and when i planted them i told myself this was just an experiment, about two salad's worth of very pretty lettuces, a handful of green beans, and about 4 snap peas. the pepper plants still have flowers, no peppers yet, and the kale seems to be ok, but is stuck in some mid point growing phase-not getting any bigger. its weird, when i tried to sprinkle more seeds once we picked the first round of lettuce, they sprouted, then promptly dropped dead. the peas died overnight as well. not sure, but i think it must be the soil; not rich enough maybe. i probably should have enriched more? there's always next year...the tomatoes, however, planted in their giant self watering planter, are flourishing like little shop of horrors; about 6' tall, daily handfuls of sweet cherries, and lots of green san marzanos offering the promise of a full harvest!

  6. I and my friends were actually going through the nice helpful tips from the blog then the sudden came up with an awful suspicion I never expressed respect to the website owner for those secrets.