Wednesday, July 4, 2012

Considering Independence

It's hard to not ponder on the day of Independence what this means in today's political, economic and environmental climate. While that idea can go in many directions I naturally consider the path of food independence. I'm always working towards what that looks like for my family. What would be the repercussions of food security? I found this article Could Cities Rely 100% on urban agriculture for their food?  where they approach tackling this question in 3 given scenarios for the city of Cleveland:

1. if Cleveland converted 80% of its vacant lots into farms it could produce 22% to 48% of the city’s demand for fresh produce (vegetables and fruits) depending on the type of farming. It could also produce 25% of poultry and shell eggs, and 100% of honey.

2. if Cleveland used 80% of every vacant lot and 9% of every occupied residential lot, the city could generate between 31% and 68% of the needed fresh produce, 94% of poultry and shell eggs, and 100% of honey.

3.  In the most ambitious scenario, if the city turned 62% of every industrial and commercial rooftop into a farm, in addition to 80% of vacant lots and 9% of occupied residential lots, the city could meet between 46% and 100% of its fresh produce needs, 94% of its poultry and shell eggs and 100% of its honey.

I don't live in a city, but how much of my own food could I produce for my family is always a lingering question. While I don't expect the City of Cleveland to start any of these experiments anytime soon it does raise the question of what if citizens began their own food security plan. The challenging part is the assumption that you can plant the same amount of something in one year and reap the same amount the next. Last year I had an almost self-sufficient amount of yellow onions. This year it's looking like garlic. I never got the onions planted. I had so many leftovers still in the garden from the previous year and I don't think the remaining crop will meet our needs. I feel pretty confident in being able to meet our "greens" quota on an annual basis now. I've discovered that I can't assume anything is "chicken proof" if I grow it in the orchard, which is also the chicken yard and I don't need to grow a lot of fresh chilies every year. A large crop of chilies pretty much lasts for several years in the form of chili sauces, pastes, jellies and dried. Maybe I only need 1 chili plant for canned salsa a year and a larger planting every 3 years. My thoughts and actions on providing my own food are constantly evolving. Sometimes you come across enough free plums or strawberries to make a huge batch of jam. Sometimes you don't. Sometimes you have more zucchini than you could ever desire and other years none. So, maybe I need to consider what foods are substitute-able and hope one thrives if the other crashes. Again, always evolving. 

But for now I am relishing in my garlic crop. On a warm day in January (the 16th to be exact) 2012 the kid and I planted garlic. On one of the hottest days of the year I harvested it. Many of the tops had browned, withered and were at the point that they broke off in the slightest tug of war with the dried earth and remained in the soil. The ones I was successful in harvesting yielded what I will assume to be a big enough crop to get me through to next year. With a little dirt that came to 1 1/2lbs. 

March 15th

April 29th

July 4th (weight of pan factored in) 
garlic = 1 1/2lbs

Garlic harvest

Garlic Scape harvest- June 18th

In the present politically polarized fight over healthcare reform and social welfare it would help us all to consider WHY we spend so much on medical care in the first place. Might there be less of a debate if we all took our healthcare more upon ourselves and less upon our government? Might food not be a huge factor?

Happy Independence Day.
Take some time to reflect what that means to you and yours.


estork said...

I love this! And it is an interesting read after having looked at my little brother's pictures this morning from his recent Farm Bureau market study in Cuba.

Laura said...

Thanks Em! Just watched a good PBS-Nature documentary on ecology in Cuba. You can see it at their website. Did your brother get to go there? That would be very cool. It makes you wonder what Cuba would be like today (more like us) if we hadn't closed doors with them. To me, it has been a win for them in many ways. Just shows what can be done in terms of agriculture and ecology (sustainability). I find it very interesting.