Turning Your Lawn into a Victory Garden Won't Save You -- Fi

Discussion in 'Planting, growing, nurturing Plants' started by hedwig, Jun 25, 2008.

  1. hedwig

    hedwig Junior Member

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    Here's an interesting article, I put it here, because the first part of it might be eye-opening o some of us.
    It would fit as well in "the big picture", but I prefer discussing the practical aspects of food production.

    Turning Your Lawn into a Victory Garden Won't Save You -- Fighting the Corporations Will

    https://www.alternet.org/environment/86943/?page=entire
     
  2. IntensiveGardener

    IntensiveGardener Junior Member

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    Re: Turning Your Lawn into a Victory Garden Won't Save You -- Fi

    An interesting link.
    I must reject the author's claim that politicaL activism is preferable to gardening. I used to be a political activist. I found much of it pointless.I bought a coca-cola from the comunist party.Street marches, t-shirts, badges... etc... none of it makes any difference these days. The authorities just ignore the street marches. Gardening is a very political thing. Its like taking back some control of your life from the corporations. even if ifs only a little bit.
    The artical assumes that commercial agriculture and home gardening have comparable yeilds per area. and comparable yeilds per energy input. In reality home gardening would probably produce far more food per acre with a fraction of the energy input.
    Also you can grow other crops than fruit and vegetables on your own land, particularly if you have a few acres. I'v grown soya beans, chick peas, and lentils for drying.
    The artical also shows how statistics can be misleading. Just because a huge percentage of the nation's agricultural land is used growing cerials does not mean that a huge proportion of your diet must be cerials. You don't have to be Mr average.
     
  3. JoanVL

    JoanVL Junior Member

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    Re: Turning Your Lawn into a Victory Garden Won't Save You -- Fi

    Yes, I agree. I fact, I worked out a daily menu from my garden alone.
    Breafast - half a ripe pawpaw with passion fruit and mandarins replacing the seeds.
    Lunch - a German meal, Spinat mit Spiegeleier, ie spinach with two fried eggs, and perhaps a baked spud if you're starving.
    Dinner - vegetarian crock pot: pumkin soup base, with chunks of spuds, carrots and other root veggies, with broad beans for protein. Of course, if you are able to kill one of your chickens, you could have a roast.

    Admittedly, a slice or two of bread wouldn't go amiss, but it can be done without commercial grains.
     
  4. hedwig

    hedwig Junior Member

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    Re: Turning Your Lawn into a Victory Garden Won't Save You -- Fi

    Intensive Gardener, he didn't wrote that. What he wrote was, that gardening is very important, the author even started community gardens, but most of us do actually not own several acres, most of us have tiny backyards and we grow what we can there.
    But the bulk of our food traditionally consists in grains , pulses and meat (if you live in the rich part of the world), that is what delivers you the energy. Most people would feel hungry eating only some fruits for breakfast. And the eggs in our garden come from chooks fed with bought scratchmix grown elsewhere. I try to grow spuds, but I guess I would not be able to grow all of the spuds we need, especially if you eat a traditionally (northern) German diet.

    All the traditional diets of countries consist in a huge amount of grain, like wheat, rice or maize. The yields per m² are considerably lower than if you grow spinach or beets.
     
  5. IntensiveGardener

    IntensiveGardener Junior Member

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    Re: Turning Your Lawn into a Victory Garden Won't Save You -- Fi

    Hi Hedwig,
    I realize the author is not anti-gardening and is in fact very much involved in alternative agrciculture. He does imply though that gardening is a less effective method of change than political disent.

    "The corporate agriculture industry would like nothing better than to see us spend all of our free time in our gardens and not in political dissent."


    What i'm saying though is that gardening is a form of political dissent. It is the like regaining some of your individual sovereignty when you take back control of your food production and diet. It is also a more effective form of dissent than many other methods used to "fight corporations".
    Admitedly though it is only part of a broader solution.


    Well, its better than nothing i guess.
    I'm very lucky to have access to so much good land now. I lived in the city for years though so i know how it is. Its a shame there arn't more community agriculture type things in or near the cities.
    ig
     
  6. Cosmic

    Cosmic Junior Member

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    Re: Turning Your Lawn into a Victory Garden Won't Save You -- Fi

    When I start talking political to people they turn a deaf ear or like to start some pointless debate.
    Once people know I have a food garden their ears perk up and they start asking all sorts of questions and say things like they would love to have this or that growing. I end up talking for hours and in between it all I am making political comments which they end up listening to and even agreeing with.
    I can say the same comments within a political discussion and I am met with opposition.
    Gardening is a fantastic political tool. People realise food CAN be in their own hands and want to learn all about it.
     
  7. grassideas

    grassideas Guest

    Re: Turning Your Lawn into a Victory Garden Won't Save You -- Fi

    Like Hedwig, I'm intrigued by the questions raised in the article about food production, especially some of the numbers quoted:

    "Each of those two food types [fruits and vegetables] occupies only about 4 percent of global agricultural land (and a smaller percentage in this country), compared with 75 percent of world cropland devoted to grains and oilseeds. Their respective portions of the human diet are similar."

    "That theoretical 5 million acres of potential home cropland compares with about 7 million acres of America's commercial cropland currently in vegetables, fruits, and nuts, and 350 to 400 million acres of total farmland," which in the States is mostly corn, wheat, and soybeans.

    Now, I've got no idea about wheat and the like, besides knowing that sure, it takes a lot more space to feed a family on wheat than it does on fruits and veggies. Does anyone have experience growing grains, or some similar space-eating crop? Any ideas on intensively productive plots? Any idea how much space you'd need to plant to feed a person for a year? If someone knows: how is this addressed in the permaculture literature/courses (which are way outside my budget right now)?

    Though it's true that plenty of people, especially those with their own gardens, make do without, and it's true that many of the calories usually gained from rice can be replaced by potatoes and other tubers which take up a fraction of the space, I think we still need to remember that these are lifestyle choices. Depending on where they are in the world, not everyone has this choice, and even when they do, they might not always want to. I, for one, love cooking with grains, but I do admit that in my hypothetical future garden (argh, school) I wasn't thinking about them at all. I suppose it wouldn't make much sense to grow all or most of my greens and fruits maybe even poultry or small farm animals if then I go and buy half a field of wheat in a box, which was probably not farmed at all sustainably. Most grains I've seen (and trust me, driving through Kansas is a bore) are vast monocultured fields, taking up good farmland, contributing to soil depletion and erosion, etc. and I can't imagine it's any better in other countries.

    Whew, sorry to go on.
    My point is: thoughts, anyone?

    Thanks.
     
  8. grassideas

    grassideas Guest

    Re: Turning Your Lawn into a Victory Garden Won't Save You -- Fi

    Whoops, wanted to add that, while again I don't know the numbers, much of the corn and grains grown must be used as animal fodder, and another large portion of the corn is being used for biofuel. My guess is that eating sustainably grown meat (pasture-fed cattle, etc) and obtaining fuel from elsewhere would significantly reduce the acreage needed. Probably acreage needed to simply feed people isn't nearly so much. Anyone know numbers on this too?

    Thanks.
     
  9. Noz

    Noz Junior Member

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    Re: Turning Your Lawn into a Victory Garden Won't Save You -- Fi

    back when we used to feed our chickens by throwing the food on the ground for them to scratch, we found quite a lot of wheat sprouted by itself and grew without any assistance whatsoever... very interesting! At the moment we are still getting an idea of exactly what we want in our suburban garden, its not really about self-sufficiency, more about growing what you can to decrease your dependence on unsustainable agriculture.
    Having said this, I'm grappling with the concept of what sustainable agriculture is... any thoughts?
     
  10. Michaelangelica

    Michaelangelica Junior Member

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    Re: Turning Your Lawn into a Victory Garden Won't Save You -- Fi

    Interesting article thank you.
    One thing unique to Australia(?) is that we are putting houses, factories, malls on our most productive agricultural land that gets the most rainfall.

    I heard gardening recently, and surprisingly, defined as a "Subversive Activity"

    Still thinking about that.

    But certainly governments (like NSW) are trying to eradicate Gardening from the suburbs with the new building and land development laws.

    Also most schools are plants-deserts; looking more and more like jails with a few token shade trees; so you can't sue them for giving your kid skin cancer.
    So certainly the "art' is not being passed on.

    You might be interested in the strangely wonderful Guerrilla Gardeners from the UK.
    https://www.guerrillagardening.org/
    I am not sure what their political point is but I love what they do. The movement seems to be growing quickly.
     
  11. paradisi

    paradisi Junior Member

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  12. Jim Bob

    Jim Bob Junior Member

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    Re: Turning Your Lawn into a Victory Garden Won't Save You -- Fi

    Indeed, in many parts of the US there are laws against having anything but lawn and bushes in your front yard. There are laws about watering your lawn, that you must do it. Colorado doesn't permit rain barrels (all water belongs to the state, they say). Other places prohibit composting, or having chickens. Here in Melbourne we may only water our gardens from mains water twice a week - not enough for food production.

    So that today in the West growing food is often an act of civil disobedience, as much as Rosa Parks refusing to give up her seat to a white man.

    In some sense it is in itself a political act, as IG says, an expression of sovereignty, of being self-reliant. But the laws we have make it an act of civil disobedience.

    I see parallels with Gandhi making salt. The British claimed a monopoly on salt, Gandhi said that anyone ought to be able to go to the sea and evaporate some water in a pan and make salt, everyone had the right to the product of their own labours. Million agreed and followed him. This was a brilliant act of civil disobedience, since the British had to either arrest him and those other millions and thus look cruel and foolish, or else just let him do what he wanted, in which case look weak and foolish.

    The authour also speaks dismissively of how little food can be produced in a small area, and therefore how worthless it must be. However, in the first place he underestimates the food which can be produced in small areas, and in the second place the things which are easily produced - fruit and vegetables - tend to cost more than the staples, and also have important nutrition in them. Being able to grow some fruit and vegies and nuts, it won't provide a great weight of food, but it's important food nutritionally and will save you money. In the developed West, bread or pasta and grains can be had for about $1-$2kg, but fruit and vegies are $2-$10 a kilogram.
     
  13. Jim Bob

    Jim Bob Junior Member

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    Re: Turning Your Lawn into a Victory Garden Won't Save You -- Fi

    Not unique at all, almost universal.

    People first settle the fertile areas. Then more people go to the fertile area. Then the fertile area produces so much there's a surplus, so that they can hire people to do things other than just work the land, things like build churches and schools and teach in them. Then these services attract more people, and so on. Gradually that fertile land gets paved under... Happens everywhere.
     
  14. Paul Cereghino

    Paul Cereghino Junior Member

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    Re: Turning Your Lawn into a Victory Garden Won't Save You -- Fi

    Jevons reports achieving 4.3 US lbs winter wheat per 100 sq ft in double dug, irrigated, composted french intensive biodynamic garden beds in a Mediterranean climate. Root carbohydrates can substitute for grain in a pinch (as the Irish). A 10 inch round loaf of bread requires around 1 lb of flour. if a person lived on two loaves a week, 52 weeks a year, 104 pounds of flour, 2400 square feet of wheat very intensively grown. Family of 4 -- 9600 sq feet == approx 1/4 acre high intensity production... double or triple for field culture... an acre per family?

    Jevons, John. 1974. How to grow more vegetables. Ten Speed Press. ISBN 0-89815-073-6

    Average acre yield in 1904-1913 (animal based agriculture) ranged from 15-30 bushels/acre (Gardener et al, 1918). 1 bushel = 4 pecks = 32 quarts = 128 cups; 4 cups per loaf = 480-960 loaves of bread per acre... using above rate of 104 loaves a year = 4-9 people per acre of wheat.

    PS - I'd agree with the authors general assertion that individualistic and isolated food production will not affect existing socio-economic structures that are degrading ecosystems and cultures.
     
  15. IntensiveGardener

    IntensiveGardener Junior Member

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    Re: Turning Your Lawn into a Victory Garden Won't Save You -- Fi

    Hi paul,
    I was about to quote jeavons too :)

    In my copy of "How to grow more vegetables" he boasts a much higher figure.

    "Our highest wheat yeild to date is at the rate of about 21 pounds per 100 square feet, using about 10 inches of water throughout the whole growing season" - Jeavons, p. 86
    I have personally acheived a yeild of 18 lbs using the same methods.
    Given yeilds like this, 1 person eating 2, 1lb loaves a week requires 104 lbs of flour per year. This could be grown on approx 495 square feet, using 1/8th of the water per pound (compared to US average) and an equal amound of labour per pound!!
    Keep in mind too that wheat only takes 4-5 months to mature and can be grown in winter in many areas. The grain crop could then be followed by a legume grop over summer, planted into the wheat stubble, using very little time or fertilizer. The straw by-product is also very usedfull (and increasingly valuable) in maintaining soil fertility and carbon content.

    To me the problem is in the harvesting and processing of the grain. Combine harvesters are ultra efficient compared with doing the same job by hand. Even using a small scale threshing machine is time consuming as the grain still needs to be cut, bound and winnowed.
    1 person with a sickle can cut about 1 acre in a hard day's work. Obviously the yeild per area is important in making this cutting time as efficient as possible.
    cheers,
    IG
     
  16. grassideas

    grassideas Guest

    Re: Turning Your Lawn into a Victory Garden Won't Save You -- Fi

    The Jeavons book looks pretty interesting. I'll have to check that out. =)
     
  17. unclebarr

    unclebarr Junior Member

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    Re: Turning Your Lawn into a Victory Garden Won't Save You -- Fi

    Is this true? I heard David Getoff,a naturapath/Clinical Nutritionist, say on at Acres USA '06 conference that grains were traditionally used as a starvation food. He was also advocating a raw diet.
    What is the context of traditionally? I imagine this depends on the timeline, culture, and geographic location.
     

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