Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Why do I grow food?

Melinda, over at One Green Generation asked the people participating in the Growing Challenge this question this morning:

I’m curious, and I think it might be helpful to others: how and why you decide to grow from seed to seed this year? Are you growing food for the first time? Are you feeling more of an economic crunch, or want to take the next step in living a simple/sustainable life? Are you doing it for the joy of slowing down? Why, why, why?

And secondly, are you noticing a shift in your neighborhood to a greater interest in growing food? I feel like more people are looking for gardening classes, I see online seed stores are really going through their inventories, and in general a lot more information about gardening. Do you see this, too?

Chuck and I have been married 32 years, and of those, I can remember only 2 that we didn't grow a portion of our own food. His father kept a garden at church, and fed family, priests and parishioners; my father and grandparents grew tomatoes for pleasure. I garden for a variety of reasons- better taste, food safety, and better variety. Most of all, though, I grow my own because I can. It's the same reason I make my own bread and sausages, yogurt and cheese- I love that I know how to do these things. It ties me to the past. Perhaps not my SPECIFIC past since I don't come from a family of sausage-making cheese artisans, but to our shared past- the past of people who knew how to do more than drive to the mall and shop. It makes me feel less helpless in the face of a world that increasingly does things TO me rather than for me.

I haven't seen a shift in the growing of food in my neighborhood. Despite our rural setting, few families close to me have gardens. I suspect it has to do with time- many people here have a long commute to work- the cost of living here is the time it takes to go to where jobs are.

I have seen a shift in the attitudes of people my kid's age. My oldest son lives in the inner city of St. Louis. I remember the year he realized exactly what it was that was fertilizing the vegetables, he refused to eat anything grown in our garden. But now he wants his own. We are working out a system for him to grow tomatoes and peppers in pots on his balcony. I am heartened when I realize the authors of the blogs I read are not my age, but a generation younger.

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