Saturday, April 25, 2009

Grow Your Own

I'd venture to guess that most folks reading this blog have a pretty good grasp of why buying local food is good for the earth, good for your health, and good for the local economy. Many probably even buy into the whole food security issue. Now, here's one more good reason to grow your own.

California is dealing with serious drought conditions. If it continues to worsen, food availability across the nation may be affected, considering that California supplies about half of the nation's produce. The governor declared a state of emergency in February, as three years of low rain and snow fall have produced one of the state's most severe droughts on record. 600,000 acres have been taken out of production in Orange Cove, California, alone, where the unemployment rate is at 25%. In the Westlands Water District that includes Fresno and Kings County officials estimate that 300,000 acres of lettuce, tomatoes and other crops will not be planted this year due to drought. Some experts predict that the total acreage left unplanted this year may go even higher than 850,000.

A recent release of federal water supply to ease drought conditions has brought the area water allowance up to around 30% of its typical allowed water usage under existing contracts, up from the 10% it was getting before federal intervention. Still too little, too late to help most farms in the region, which could seriously affect pricing and availability of produce and other products like orange juice or wine.

To read more, check out California's Department of Water Resources and this article in the New York Times. I'll be following this story closely. Seems Great Depression 2.0 also has a ready-made Dust Bowl 2.0 in the making.

It's not too late to start a garden for those who haven't gotten around to ordering and starting seeds. Buying vegetable seedlings from the nearest garden center is a great way to go, especially when just starting out, as it frees you from starting those seeds in the depths of winter when few folks are thinking about gardening at all. Most of the garden centers around here are watching their vegetable starts fly off shelves, as more people turn to gardening as a way of easing grocery bills. Turns out, the summer garden may be a good plan in terms of availability as well.


el said...

Joan Didion wrote a really revealing (to me, anyway) look at Sacramento and the system of irrigation channels that make California agriculture possible in her book Where I Was From. Talk about subsidies! Unsustainable without water, certainly. Water could indeed be the next resource battle. The Great Lakes states recently signed a pact to not allow shipment of their water to other states, which is something water-poor states were actually considering.

But also considering how we squander this cheap resource, something definitely needs to be rethunk! Our grandkids will surely laugh at us for flushing potable water.

Christy said...

I'm freaking out here that I don't have more planted! The garden needs to be tilled, the neighbor says he's going to do it. When? Who knows? I have 2 permanent beds built but need dirt to fill them and I don't have a truck. It is expensive to get dirt delivered. ARGH!!!!

Green Bean said...

It always amazes me that we are so hesitant to ration water in residential areas - helllooooo lawns! - and are not at all concerned with tamping off the flow of water to the farms.

Anonymous said...

scary. glad we don't have those issues here, but if the population in this county keeps exploding we may.

our first little seedlings did not make it. it was too wet, too wet to get them in the ground and then the cat started eating them off the dining room table.

BUT, we got some really great young plants that i got in the garden today, so all is well.

karl said...

we have expanded our garden extensively this year. less lawn more food.

Ren said...

Gawd, my cat ate the seedlings this year too. I didn't know cats would do that as we had up to five at a time before and they never TOUCHED the seedlings. sigh.

I made myself feel better by purchasing some starts at the local gardening center and planting some more seeds. It will be interesting to see what happens in CA and how it affects us all.

Country Girl said...

Scary stuff!!

Danielle said...

El, I keep trying to figure out how to retro fit a gray water system somehow, though we don't need it at the moment with all this dang rain!

Christy, I hope you get your farm truck soon!

Yeah, Green Bean, doesn't make much sense, does it? Politically it's a better move, I guess. *sigh*

Big Blue and Ren, I can't believe the cat ate your seedlings! lol Well, not funny, but still funny. I do love my cart system now that I've got a way to anchor it. It's sooo easy and gets everything off my dining room table. No legginess because of all the natural light. It's great.

Karl, you guys have been busy! You're structures always look so pretty. Meanwhile, we're using tarps and old truck caps. A friend said we looked straight out of Mother Earth magazine, and I think that was a complement. ;)

It'll be interesting to see if anything comes of this or the swine flu. We sure have a perfect storm in the making, as it won't take much to tip the economy over the edge of no return. Still, teetering is better than falling, I guess.

Christy said...

The cat ate my seedlings too. Luckily my neighbor has a greenhouse and lots of seedlings started. He was happy to share.