If, like us, you believe that everything we do needs to contribute to planet regeneration and to the resilience of communities, then reestablishing access to seasonal and local foods is an important step! How did we lose touch? Well, when we decided we wanted all of production out of our sight the term NIMBY “not in our back yard” was coined and we delegated all responsibility of production to industry and machines took over our food production.
Hard hit by the current pandemic, it is more than evident that we need to be able to rely on local and functioning systems at all times!
When shocks and stresses tilt the balance in our system we need to continue to be able to satisfy our basic needs locally, relying on functional ecosystems and infrastructure and on thriving communities!
There is a loud and clear call for doing what we can with what we have, right now!
Relevant Facts and Figures:
Did you know that eating local, seasonal produce results in more delicious and nutrient-dense meals that could also help protect the environment?
RESILIENCE THROUGH URBAN FARMING
In the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, when New Orleans was struggling to rebuild itself, the poorest families were left to fend for themselves. They struggled to secure access to affordable, healthy food.
In response to this, an urban gardening movement began to spread, helping put healthy food on the tables of many poor families across New Orleans. It also fostered community spirit while boosting individual and collective self-esteem.
The movement contributed to the birth of a greener and more attractive city. The community-based initiative attracted many people back to the city, transforming it into a point of interest again.
This story brings us hope because Urban Gardening as an activity we can all venture to practice, can increase community resilience! The question we ask is: why wait for a hurricane or a crisis, why not start now?
URBAN FARMING BONDS
Officer, how are your tomatoes?
In a small town in England, residents began to organize themselves to repurpose the city’s decorative plant beds into vegetable beds. Residents even planted greens in front of the police station. The newly planted vegetable beds greatly improved neighbourly relations between citizens and local authorities; it generated more frequent, fun conversations such as “Good morning Officer, how do you like your tomatoes?”
The project attracted much attention, so much so that it began to attract lots of tourists. This also had an unintended consequence of helping revitalize the town’s local market which continues to thrive today.
2050 AND IN TOWN
Have you ever gone to sleep one night – nothing strange about the night, and the next morning you wake up 30 years in the future?Well, that is what happened to me yesterday! “I woke up, got out of bed, and after my morning ablutions, I opened the window and stepped into the veranda to pick breakfast: 7 leaves from the Moringa potted tree, a parsnip and a carrot from my vertical façade farm and a couple of apples from my pot orchard, all for my green morning smoothie … I lean out over the balcony to check if there are façade goats climbing anywhere nearby – a few drops of goat milk would make such a lovely condiment to my morning coffee! The goats are not close enough, though, they are three floors below, enjoying my neighbor’s carrot greens! Bummer!
Back inside, I pick a Tuscan cabbage to shred and layer in the probiotic crock and a lettuce for my lunch, from my indoor hydroponic farm. I also check if the façade beehive has any honey leaking into the indoor deposit. The most recent colony of bees housed in my beehive is hyper productive – I have traded honey with neighbors for weeks – especially for goat milk, with the neighbor who gets the façade goats’ attention!
After I wash and peel the plant ingredients I picked, I place them in the juicer jar, lift the front wheel of my single gear bicycle onto the juicer contraption, slot in the mixer jar, hop on and pedal until the juice is smooth. What a pleasure to drink such a perfect and tasty morning smoothie, prepared and grown in my home!
WHAT IF HANSEL AND GRETEL KNEW ABOUT FORAGING?
The art of foraging is a gateway to one of humankind’s most ancient practices of communion within the natural world. Knowing how to gather wild food and medicine is neither an eclectic hippy hobby nor nefarious witchcraft, it is a fundamental necessity in terms of survival. It is a practical and grounded approach to awakening an ancient instinctual wisdom that resides deep in our bones. To nurture an intricate understanding of our symbiotic relationship within our environment inspires a sense of empowerment and well being. And yet, walking into a wild meadow and eating native and highly nutritious plants is something romantically barbaric and intimidating to most? Why does a cat know what grasses to nibble on in order to purge when necessary, yet we no longer do?
What if Hansel and Gretel knew about foraging? Lost in the forest, Hansel and Gretel decided to tap into their ancestral knowledge: First look for Shelter, then ensure we have sufficient warmth to be able to recover and restore their energy, then hack into a fresh Water system, and then seek for Food – in this sequence! And when they get to food seeking, they successfully would have kept alive and healthy by picking the following weeds and plants: Stinging Nettle (Urtica dioica), Field Marigold (Calendula Arvensis), Bay Leaf (Laurus nobilis), Mallow (Malva sylvestris), Rosemary (Rosmarinus officinalis), Wild Olive Leaf (Olea europaea L. folium) and Mullein (Verbascum thapsus).
These are just some of the local sources of immune system building plants and weeds you may consider picking when you next go for a walk in Nature.