This sub-section will focus on the science, art and business of cultivating the ground we rely on for our food. It is a national crime (in my opinion) that small farms are being driven out of business by the big agri-corporations. Large scale monoculture destroys our nations top soil. The large operations allow for more food to be coaxed out of ground that is losing it ability to recover so they then spray chemicals to fool the ground into producing one more season of crops.
Where does our food come from? This simple question must be asked and answered in order for us to become truly self sufficient and sustainable. Until you realize how much waste is incurred by insisting that we have peaches in the dead of winter or beautiful, unblemished tomatoes year round, we will not be moving toward a sustainable life style. The real hysteria caused by frankenfood is starting to bother a lot of people. I have encountered many folks who are sounding the alarm regarding GMO’s (genetically modified organism) yet blissfully continue to buy products laden with GMO’s. The game has been truly fixed and we will be hard pressed to break out of the vicious cycle foisted upon us by the big agribusinesses. In case you haven’t heard, a large chemical company has gained the right to sue farmers who have found their patented seeds in the farmers fields even though the farmers never wanted or purchased the GMO seeds. Since October of 2013, Mexico has banned the use of GMO corn having sited reports that since 2001 Mexico’s native corn has been contaminated by transgenes from GMO corn, unwanted and unasked for.
Our society has been sold on the consistent availability of all manners of fruits and vegetables, anytime, anywhere. Have you ever seen an empty potato or tomato bin in the grocery store? How about apples? Would you put up a stink if you were unable to get oranges or pineapples when you wanted them? Where do bananas come from? How many of our fruits and vegetables arrive at our supermarket having been picked just as they were at their ripest, or are they picked green, gassed and painted to look good as they are transported hundreds of miles in the back of a truck. To develop a completely sustainable food forest will require a level of sacrifice that many just don’t want to think about.
So what can we do against these large corporate giants who are telling us what we can buy, eat or stockpile? We grow our own food, we eat our own food and we “put up food” for the winter. You just might need to get used to the idea of eating canned peaches or tomatoes. A real treat might come once a year when Uncle Charlie sends you a pineapple from the islands or Aunt Martha sends you fresh oranges right out of her garden. The good news is that with our current technologies we can grow many things in a greenhouse and with proper permaculture principals grow enough variety to not really miss any one thing.
Which brings me to the best answer to give when asked “where does your food come from”? When we can answer with “I grew it myself!” we will have gained a level of sustainability and the security from knowing we are not subject to some big box store having what we need. Now for the bad news. Growing your own food takes work and lots of patience. Prepare yourself to endure misshaped tomatoes or smaller peaches with(gasp!) worm holes. The corn may not come up or the strawberries may not set. The varmints may get to your stores or the berries before you can pick them. It may take a couple of years to get the hang of growing all kinds of fruits and vegetables but the good news is that it is possible. We must start now. A favorite quote you will hear over and over again is “The best time to plant a fruit tree is right now!”
This is one of the largest sections in our plan as there are as many ways to garden as there are fruits and vegetables. We will try and cover as much ground (did you see what I did there!) as possible by breaking out different types and methods of agriculture into a convenient and searchable resource.