I had just finished transplanting my heirloom carrots from their egg carton home into planters outside when I came back in and browsed through an article in the New York Times about the revival of the kitchen garden. People freaked out about the spinach E. coli scare, the numerous strawberry-Hepatitis A incidents and the Humane Society video showing animal cruelty at a meatpacking plant have been turning to their own backyard as a source of nourishment.
Quite likely as a result of my parents’ own hippie tendencies (they make their own soymilk, and, before cow’s milk became déclassé, they had a cow and made their own yogurt), I’ve always been interested in growing and making my own food.
My first real taste of urban agriculture, however, took place at Fairview Gardens Farm and the Center for Urban Agriculture in Goleta, Calif. This place is a haven for organic fruit and veggie lovers. I worked as an intern for three weeks, helping to sow the seeds, weed the rows, harvest the fruits and vegetables and eat a few in between 🙂 What struck me was just how, well, difficult it was to keep the pests and weeds away. No wonder we turned to pesticides. But at what cost?
I also helped to coordinate the Community Supported Agriculture program, where people came each week to pick up their “share” of the farm — a basket filled with fruits and vegetables all harvested only hours earlier.
This was years ago, before the explosion of the locavore movement, before Michael Pollan’s “Omnivore’s Dilemma” and “In Defense of Food” books, and before organics were regulated by the USDA.
Now, it seems like everyone’s jumping on the wagon. Kitchen gardens are now chic and shopping at the farmers’ market has become uber trendy. CSAs are becoming increasingly common and eating local has become an obsession for some.
But you don’t have to jump in all of the way to enjoy some of the joys and benefits of tending to your own garden. You can plant a few herbs by your apartment window (egg cartons — the former home of my carrots — make wonderful little pots for seedlings) and join the local movement. I’m currently growing some cilantro and basil. All it took was a quick trip to Home Depot for a few seed packets and a bag of seed starer mix. The article had a great website — kitchengardeners.org — that has tons of tips on how to grow your own garden.
So come on, join us. After all, everybody’s doing it.