I’ve been around gardens for as long as I can remember. As a child one of the things I most looked forward to when visiting my grandparents was the opportunity for some fresh-from-the-pod peas, raspberries right off the vine, and teeny tiny potatoes perfect for popping into a child-sized mouth whole.
Later, my parents kept a small vegetable patch in the backyard of our suburban home. They did all the work – I was a teenager then and had other things preoccupying my time – but I still loved going out and snipping chives to toss onto my baked potato, and the explosion of flavor from a sun-warmed tomato.
Back then I never thought about things like how much energy it took for that jar of spaghetti sauce to make it to my dinner table, the impact of vast fields of corn or wheat on wildlife, or what all that fertilizer and pesticide meant for my food and my health. Concepts such as climate change were only just percolating into the national consciousness in the places I called home.
But all that began to change when I decided on a major in Biology at university. There, I learned so much more about natural systems and how interconnected those systems really are. Water, endlessly recycled and cleaned through evaporation, rainfall and percolation. Soil that is continually rebuilt through a complex dance of chemical processes and an army of organisms responsible for breaking matter back down into nutrients. In nature, there’s no such thing as waste.
I never finished that degree in biology, I ended up going into business instead, but I never strayed far from that fascination with natural systems. I studied them in my spare time, thought about them, read about them. And when I finally made may way into one of those suburban homes for myself, I knew I had to do things differently.
In early 2015 my husband and I moved into a new-to-us home in suburbia. The yard had a Black Walnut tree in the front yard, an Ash and Maple in the backyard, and a whole lot of nothing else but grass. Nothing I could eat, and nothing for birds, bees or bugs to eat.
A food desert.
This is pretty much the norm for American suburbs, barren green wastelands, not even interesting to look at! I’m on a mission to change that. I want front and backyards to be thriving, low-maintenance, low-water ecosystems that provide food are sustainable, and are beautiful to look at.
Interested? Come along. Let’s do it together.