There are urban farmers, guerilla gardeners and tree-strip ripping going on like crazy all over the U.S. (or at least mention of it on the blogosphere). But is all of this edible green mayhem really helping us become more sustainable?
How many gardens out there end up being weed factories full of overripe and splitting produce, sipping on wasted water and allowing moisture to evaporate away into the ether? In other words, are most of us into gardening more in spirit than in actuality? And if so, do the spiritual benefits of readjusting our Chi with a spade in our hand really worth the waste of time, energy, soil nutrients and water?
Let’s look at some plus and minuses.
Plus: Even when I forget to check my peas in the back yard, the quail never do. Minus: but then they eat all my grapes, and this really pisses me off.
Plus: I had homegrown radishes for lunch today. Minus: the saved me like fifteen cents, maybe.
Plus: Gardening gets my wife outside and more often than not, in good spirits. Minus: this gets me outside with noisy, rented equipment like tillers. (And this year it took me a while just to find a freaking post-driver. Seriously, sometimes living in the city sucks.)
Plus: I have less yard than I used to. Minus: I still have a yard. (Oh wait. I guess this isn’t my garden’s fault.) Plus: I use less water on my garden than on my yard, and I can usually get my wife to weed the garden while I have to mow the lawn. I do have some dwarf peach and nectarine tress that actually make fruit that gets mostly eaten by us.
So, I guess over all I would still prefer garden to lawn. But, much of our attempts to garden end in fruitlessness and waste. And I suspect that my wife and I might be better than many urban gardeners out there. I think the solution lies in community development and neighborhood gardening efforts. If our neighbors all tore out their strips as well, and we organized dates throughout each month in the spring and summer to tend the neigborhood strip garden, not only would the results be probably ten-fold, but the rewards would extend well beyond having salad grown on your own block.
This sort of neighborhood garden could provide sustainable community along with local produce which is good for our bodies and our planet. Maybe then the quail would leave my wine-making grapes alone.