Houston Sustainable Food Gardeners

A forum dedicated to discussing how to easily grow organic food sustainably and inexpensively year-round in urban Houston settings, in individual and community vegetable gardens. Other food related issues are also discussed.
 
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 How do we ensure healthy fresh produce is available to everyone?

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dragonfly
Grape Vine
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Join date : 2010-06-04

PostSubject: How do we ensure healthy fresh produce is available to everyone?   Mon Jun 07, 2010 11:58 am

How do we ensure healthy fresh produce is available to everyone?

Some people choose not to eat sustainably produced, organic produce not because they can’t afford it, but because they are not aware of how much it costs them not to. However, a very large portion of the Houston community faces even larger obstacles. They don’t have the physical or monetary access to healthy food.

As part of a ‘can do’ city, this is unacceptable. What can we do? A variety of approaches are desirable. Community gardens are of course one great approach.

I’d like to discuss another, perhaps linkable, approach. In the process of donating some of the excess produce from my own garden, to a small Houston food pantry, I decided to bring along some excess baby ‘volunteer’ food plant that sprout up in the pathways. Usually, I give some of them away to friends, but most end up in the compost bin. I brought some Mexican mint marigolds (tarragon-like herb) and some lambs quarters (greens). I suggested that growing some of your own food at home was very empowering (nutritionally and spiritually). I asked if there was any interest and there was a lot. As I drop off produce, now, I also bring plants and share information about how to simply take care of them at home.

There are numerous community centers and pantries that could be approached. As more people become familiar with growing even a little of their own food, they might also be more appreciative of the added benefits of a community garden.

I know this is just a drop in the bucket, and does nothing to address the underlying, currently defective, systems that promote the extreme economic disparity present in Houston and throughout the world. But sometimes empowerment begins with a single step.

Comments? Ideas?
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LastOrganicOutpost
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Location : Houston's 5th Ward

PostSubject: Last Organic Outpost and The Food Everywhere Movement   Mon Sep 06, 2010 4:02 pm

Dragonfly
This is something Joe and I discuss daily. We live in the 3rd ward and probably will move to the 5th ward in the near future.

Why is it that everyone has the right to a free public education, clean drinking water, the right to vote - but where is the right to local, fresh nutitional food?
One of the things we see day after day working with people from the 5th ward is that, not only do people not have the money to buy fresh produce, they have no or extremely limited access to any good food or transportation to get to a store.

In our neighborhood, we show people how they can grow a few vegetables anywhere by using their imagination and planting in anything available. We know folks that even plant lettuce and greens in the dresser drawers from a junked piece of furniture. I think a lot of people are "scared" to try to grow, because they've heard that you have to have a perfect bed, perfect soil, perfect bug control, and so on. I think it absolutely petrifies some folks that they will "get it wrong".
The simple fact of the matter is that as long as you have good seed and great soil it is worth a try. Seed is relatively cheap in the scheme of things and we never let anyone tell us that there is only one way to do things. And while it is true that you can't always grow common greens and lettuce in Houston in the summer (though we grew international varieties of both this summer), it is okay to plant stuff a little early or a little late. The important thing is to just do it.
It's really amazing with the ideas people come up with and what works - sometimes it's nothing we have ever considered before.

And people really don't know what seasonal means any more, do they?

Three years ago, no one in the neighborhood would eat anything other than collards, mustard, and okra. Now we have quite a few that have tried new recipes we've provided and folks are eating a lot of different things. We like to say at the farm that if you don't like a certain vegetable, then we just haven't come up with the right recipe yet.

There is a huge, huge need in neighborhoods like ours for fresh, seasonal produce. And while we are encouraging everyone to farm with The Food Everywhere Movement and the development of the 5th Ward Urban Farm Belt, we realize that not everyone has the space or the money to do it on their own. So while you can't "own" a bed at our farm, if you just do a little work, you can take home free vegetables. This works well for all the folks around is that live in apartments. We also have quite a few elderly folks that we will pick free vegetables for because they don't get out much.

While I believe that food security is very important, I also think that working in community with people brings us all together by talking about food - how to grow it, how to eat it. And we really believe that there are a million ways to farm.



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