Squash in the ‘burbs

An article in the current issue of Time Magazine debated the relative pros and cons of organic produce vs. locally grown produce.  There appeared to be no easy resolution to the debate.  Do you prefer the possibility of pesticides in order to support local farmers and eat fresher food, or do you prefer the appeal of chemical-free produce that has travelled thousands of miles and been harvested *way* too early in order to make it to your market?

I used to live in the ‘burbs, and now I live in the city.  I’m no farmer by any stretch of the imagination.  But I like the idea of growing at least herbs and some veggies in a window box or a patch of dirt in the back yard.  But that’s small potatos (pardon the pun) when trying to address the issue of eating fresher and healthier, organically grown food.  I want to support local farmers.  I want to start removing some of the layers between myself and my food.  Layers that insulate me from the harsh facts of life.  Layers that make it much easier for me to not think about what my consumption costs the environment, whether in terms of production or disposal.  

I got to thinking that it would make a lot of sense to market a subdivision or neighborhood where everyone agreed to grow food together.  Some people do this in neighborhood gardens already.  But I was thinking more along the lines of individual homeowners committing to grow specific things on their property.  These could in turn be exchanged with neighbors who were growing different items.  Anyone who had produce to contribute could freely exchange.  If there was excess available, it could be sold.  

So I might decide to plant an orange tree and a lemon tree in my backyard (actually, when I lived in Phoenix I had an orange tree and a peach tree).  When these ripened, I could offer to swap my excess to neighbors who might be growing corn or strawberries or squash.  On a neighborhood scale, the variety of produce available could be impressive.  With a large enough scale so that more than one household was growing one type of produce, there would be plenty to share with neighbors.  Participants would covenant to grow organically (fertilizer, weed/pest control, the works).  

I’ll bet some clever marketer/real estate mogul out there could get a real competitive advantage by working this into their next planned community.  And I’m sure that a lot of neighborhoods in the ‘burbs or the city might like the benefits this could provide in terms of drawing people closer together and building more relationships within the community.  Maybe a church could even organize this sort of thing in the neighborhoods surrounding them.   

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s