Dig This: Did You Know? 10×10=$700

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Did you know you can save about $700 in food costs if you grow your vegetables year-round in a 10-by-10-foot garden bed? Think of what your back yard could produce.

I know of an old man who has about a half-acre of sandy soil that he turned into great garden soil over several years. Recently he sold about $30,000 worth of vegetables and fruit from his front porch. Not bad, huh?

Did you know that to follow the new recommended diet you need to eat five portions of fresh vegetables and fruits every day? You probably knew this already, but have you changed your eating habits? Our easy-to-get, cheap food has been overloaded with too much salt, too much sugar, too much oil. It’s like poisoning your garden soil with chemical fertilizers. Most of us are aware of what this has done to our health. We are a nation of over-fed, overweight, obese, and inactive but undernourished people, where one-third of our children born after 2000 will come down with diabetes. Logic suggests that you can combine growing your own food (exercise) with the required diet of vegetables and fruits to improve the health of yourselves and your families.

Did you know that if everyone decided today that their health was worth the effort to start eating vegetables and fruits, we don’t produce enough for the population? It has been estimated that it will take about 13 million additional acres of land in the U.S. to meet the demand. And just where are these acres to be found, with all the best land and water already under production? In addition, are you aware of the global food crisis? National Geographic Magazine reports that “between 2005 and the summer of 2008, the price of wheat and corn tripled and the price of rice climbed five-fold, spurring food riots in nearly two dozen countries.” Now, the UN reports that “alarming hunger is found in 25 countries.” Worldwide food shortages means higher costs for us regardless of our local agricultural production and potential.

Urban agriculture may be the answer. Think of what food crops you could grow year-round. In places like: your back yards and even your front yards; nearby vacant lots and underused public lands; reclaimed industrial lands; community gardens; rooftop gardens and restaurant gardens. Since the average distance that our food travels from farm to table is 1,500 miles, urban/suburban grown food could solve both our diet and cost problems at the same time.

Well, I guess it’s up to you and me to deal with our food problems. We have to start digging, becoming farmers and ranchers. The hands-on workshops at the Community Teaching Garden at Shasta College are designed to help you learn how to grow your food more efficiently, become more cost effective and be easier on your back.  After all, eating is an agricultural act. It’s also necessary for life.

Next time in Dig This! I’ll present some hints on how a first-time gardener can get started right now, this fall. See, I just planted another seed …

Upcoming workshops at the Community Teaching Garden:

Saturday, Oct 23, 10 a.m. to 12 noon – Preserving & Storing your Garden Produce

Room 812, Shasta College Main Campus

Presenter: Ron Epperson

Saturday, Nov 6, 10 a.m. to 12 noon – Saving Your Seeds

Room 812, Shasta College Main Campus

Presenter: Jim Collins

Saturday, Nov 20, 10 a.m. to 12 noon – Composting & Worm Culture

Room 810, Shasta College Main Campus

Presenter: Ken Waranius

Photos by Melita Bena

For registration information call 530-225-4835

Or go online to www.shastacollege.edu/EWD and click on “Pathways.”

648-wayne-rakeWayne Kessler is a local organic farmer, nurseryman and activist for local food security. He is the owner of Shambani Organics nursery in Manton with his wife Laurie. Wayne is a technical advisor to the Community Teaching Garden.

Dig This is a regular biweekly column offering ecological wisdom and garden advice. If you have questions or would like Jim and Wayne to address a particular issue, you may contact them at the Teaching Garden by e-mail at teachinggarden@shastacollege.edu.

A News Cafe, founded in Shasta County by Redding, CA journalist Doni Greenberg, is the place for people craving local Northern California news, commentary, food, arts and entertainment.

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Following his grandfather's advice, "Grow food. People always need food," has led Wayne to a lifetime of cultivating and processing food. He spends much of his time encouraging people to become more food independent by growing their own.
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