Bringing it back to the basics, groups around the globe are starting to own what they eat, growing food in gardens they tend, sharing their bounty and learning the ropes as they go. It is truly inspiring. The following two stories get me very excited.
There are plenty of reasons for growing your own food such as minimizing transportation, limiting pesticides, and knowing that your food is not genetically modified. But going even further, growing your own fruit and vegetables will contribute to you consuming more of these foods as they will be plentiful and the variety will only be limited by space and climate. The best part? It makes economic sense, which in fact is the number one reason cited by people who have been doing this for a very long time.
The accomplishment of growing your own food, the feeling of control over your destiny and the pride in the product all have gone a long way in programs running in the Bronx, NY. Teacher Stephen Ritz has grown his classroom projects from humble beginnings and in the process has changed lives. With the Walton Green Teen Program, pupil’s attendance increased, their health was addressed, tons of fresh food was donated and the best part? Involvement in the project was a catalyst for the students, many of whom have gone on to graduate and are now an integral part of their community. Next up for Mr. Ritz? Partnering with community groups and giving each student access to adult mentors at Hunts Point High School, also in the Bronx. Their “edible” walls, with the aid of 21st century technology, will catapult these students into the future by giving them a solid foundation on which to build. It’s more than tilling the soil these days. He hints that his Green Bronx Machine will be coming soon, I will be on the look out to see exactly what this motivated and inspiring teacher brings to the table.
Across the pond in Todmorden, England, three people started what is now a thriving volunteer organization which plants accessible edible gardens throughout the town. Called Incredible Edible Todmorden their motto is simple: If you eat, you’re in. I love the idea of town space which would traditionally be designated as floral gardens being transformed into edible gardens. Apparently I am not the only one; tourism in the small town has also grown as people flock to witness first hand what an impact this has had and learn to emulate it themselves. The food can be picked by anyone so long as it’s ripe. They’ve even gone so far as to involve local artists who cleverly communicate to the masses what is what and when to pick it. Because let’s face it, if it doesn’t come in plastic or on a shelf, most of us wouldn’t know what we were looking for! There seems to be no end in sight for the folks in Todmorden with many new projects and initiatives being added. The accomplishments this group has under their belt are even more remarkable when you stop to consider that this is still a volunteer project; giving back to the community, creating jobs, providing free food, and boosting sales by creating awareness of locally produced cheeses, meats, eggs and more.
If you have space to do it, I strongly encourage you to plant your own food. The rewards cannot be measured. Perhaps these stories will affect you as they have me and together we can change the way we get food to our plates.