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backyard gardening

Food security has never been more insecure. Here are five reasons to take charge of your own food security with an edible garden.

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We’re on the heels of harvest season and it’s a glorious thing if you’re a food lover.

It’s easy to be blissfully ignorant about what the end of the season means if all you ever do is walk into stores and buy your stuff, but if you grow your own food, you know that “end of season” really means it’s time to harvest everything and preserve it — or you’re gonna lose it.

If you’re not already growing your own food, it’s time you did. Here are 5 things farmers aren’t gonna tell you.

1. Prices will likely not go down

We’re dealing with a new food world order. Climate change, migratory patterns, skyrocketing population, catastrophic weather events, the price of oil, the energy crisis, crop failures — there are many realities changing the game when it comes to food, whether it’s the droughts in California, longer winters in the east, or even organized crime in Mexico hijacking the lime harvest a week before Cinco de Mayo, like what happened in 2014 when limes were as much as $2 each near me.

Is your wage going up more than 3% per year? Well, grocery costs are.

Once your food garden is planted, though, the cost to maintain it in coming years are quite minimal, but the reward is massive!

2. Demand for food will skyrocket but we’ll have fewer farmers than ever

This isn’t some fear-mongering stat; part of the “fewer farmers than ever” thing has to do with more efficient farm equipment than ever too. That’s helpful, but it’s not the whole picture. In 2012, the USDA said that 33% of farmers were 65 and older. Conversely, only 6% were under age 35. In the next few years, who’ll take the older generation’s place? Who will preserve old-school agriculture for us? Who will grow our food?

If, however, every home started growing some food of their own, and we abandoned the foolishness of “lawns” for mini-farms, we could get in front of the projected food shortages long before they occur.

backyard raised herb garden

3. Nearly a third of the world’s food supply is wasted annually

In the United States, food as big business amounts to a full third of our food going to waste, at a total loss of over $160 billion, according to the USDA.

That’s not all food being chucked out of consumer fridges — some of it is rotting on the vines, others are improperly handled or stored by the companies producing them, and all kinds of other reasons lead to waste.

Growing your own food means tending to it with care and awareness. You’ll know when the flowers are turning into fruits, or when vegetables are sprouting. Harvest really shouldn’t be a one-day event over massive crops. Different plants mature on different days and tomato ripening, for example, can happen over a month.

You, as a small-plot farmer, can bring in exactly what’s ripe when it’s ripe, whether you’re eating it now or preserving it for the winter.

4. Organic is overpriced

Maybe organic crops suffer more waste from pests than other farmers do, but that’s also down to practicalities. It can be easier to maintain healthy farming practices with less loss if you’re working a smaller crop and managing it more attentively. Obviously big food can’t do that.

Sometimes, you might need to spray things, but if you’re practicing permaculture and working with nature, you can probably find ways to control pests without resorting to chemicals, and save a lot of money while doing so. Again, not an option for most large-scale or commercial farms.

5. It’ll taste better

A lot of foods gotten from supermarkets have been irradiated or were picked when unripe and “ripened” en route. There’s a reason my sixth-grade teacher used to laden her tomatoes with salt — they tasted bland. Growing your own tomatoes in rich, fertilized soil and doting your attention on it is an epiphany of flavour.

Your greens will be more tender, your onions will be sweeter. “Fresh is best” is a cliche for a reason. If you’ve never had salads picked out of your own yard, you’re missing out on how tasty healthy can be.

Start planning ahead

Nature will soon take her long seasonal nap, but it’s time for you to awaken a dream for a great garden for your yard. It’s time to save and plan. We’re entering into uncertain days with the environment, and the best thing we can all do is take responsibility for some of our own food supply. It might not make big agriculture happy, but we can’t count on them getting the job done anymore.

Luckily, most of this continent is really well-suited to growing some good food at home. You’ve got the next few months to get a plan in place for what you’ll grow, and where. Talk to your green-thumbed neighbors. They might have great help they’re waiting to impart. With any luck, a year from now you too will be enjoying a bounty of unimagined riches from your very own yard.

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Steffani Cameron

Steffani Cameron is a Victoria BC-based writer on a variety of topics. Here on the BuildDirect blog, she specializes in writing about smaller, urban spaces. How do you make the most of your smaller space? How do you decorate it to suit you? And how do you wage the war against clutter and win? This is Steff’s specialty.