Tuesday, 20 October 2009

Monday and Kapunda garden in perspective

While I am here in Santa Cruz,  it's a good opportunity to see the garden in Kapunda in some sort of perspective.  When I'm at home, there is always plenty to do and I am usually preoccupied with what is going wrong (pests, diseases, heat, cold, etc) and what needs attention or picking or preserving for the future.
While I am here, babysitting in Santa Cruz, watching the change of a completely different season (one bonus is being able to have roma tomatoes on ciabatta for breakfast in October!)  it is a good time to see how efficient, or otherwise, garden production is in Kapunda.
I have had time to read a few blogs about, not only gardening,  but economic issues and how people are managing.  As unemployment increases people are thinking more and more about growing a garden and producing some food.  From pots on balconies, to backyard makovers and even the Whitehouse lawn,  people are growing food.
There are a number of sceptics also.  The usual negative comment begin with the problem of having to produce so much food so soon...  if things really are so dire, then the amount of food that "backyarders" need to produce is just not feasable.  I have even seen the comment that a minimum of 200 acres would be needed to produce one's food.

I find myself with two different answers to these nay-sayers.
First of all,  even producing any food at all reduces the amount that you need to buy at the grocery store.  Just because one can't produce every last item,  doesn't mean that one should give up.  It sin't all or nohing!  It helps that I'm not a perfectionist.  I grow what I can and buy the rest from my local grocery shop,  the grain millers and the farmer's market.

The second answer to these comments is that you'd be surprised how much you can produce on a relatively small area.  I can grow almost all of the food that we need.  It has taken some time and a lot of learning, but it's do-able.  The other thing that I know is that, should the economy/climate/peak-everything become any worse,  I can increase production if I need to.
Much of my one acre is covered by large trees.  These do provide quite a bit of firewood, rather too much shade in places and they are greedy for water.   One of the trees is going to be cut down soon.  It shades the house during the winter,  reducing the heating potential of the solar water heater.   It is a kurrajong and not much use for fuel.  I will arrange to have the tree cut and "chipped"  so that I can make use of the wood as mulch and eventually,  the patch of garden where it grows will be yet another vegetable patch.   This is a long term project and would provide extra produce for any extra people, though also some for sale!

I have been looking for some other examples of people (in "first world"  countries)  producing food in a relatively small space.   Third world people have always done this, out of necessity.  Their only advantage is that they have seen it done, don't assume that it can't happen, and don't have many options.  I'd like to think that, given the same opportunities, the rest of us would be able to learn these new skills as well.  The Cuban population did just that when confronted with their own version of peak oil.

I found "The tiny farm"  which produces food to sell and  the Dervaes family's urban homestead in which the family are able to produce 6000lbs of food on one tenth of an acre in suburban Los Angeles.

So,  to those people who worry about how to gow enough food to be self sufficient,  just start somewhere... potatoes and silver beet!

And back to Epicurus....
For Epicurus, the purpose of philosophy was to attain the happy, tranquil life, characterized by ataraxia, peace and freedom from fear, and "aponia", the absence of pain, and by living a self-sufficient life surrounded by friends.
... sounds like a recipe for modern times.


John L said...

200 acres? Bullshit! How am I meant to eat all this broccoli, kale and silverbeet before it goes to seed? Going to seed is OK I guess.

Jane said...

I'm just quoting... thousands of farmers all over the world feed themselves on an acre or so. they don't have tractors though, and they don't have to buy fuel.... just grow food. It makes a difference.
Subsistance farmers probably don't have light at night, computers, washing machines or obesity problems.