One of the things I’ve missed since we moved to California is gardening. I didn’t grow a lot, but I enjoyed getting my hands dirty and enjoying the fresh vegetables. It gave me a sense of accomplishment.
This article talks about the amount of food that is produced in the Dacha* gardens in Russia.
While many in the world are completely dependent on large scale agriculture, the Russian people feed themselves. Their agricultural economy is small scale, predominantly organic and in the capable hands of the nation’s people. Russians have something built into their DNA that creates the desire to grow their own food. It’s a habit that has fed the Russian nation for centuries. It’s not just a hobby but a massive contribution to Russia’s agriculture.
The results are impressive
in 2011, dacha gardens produced over 80% of the countries fruit and berries, over 66% of the vegetables, almost 80% of the potatoes and nearly 50% of the nations milk, much of it consumed raw.
The image above gives some comparisons between the US and Russia in how we spend our time and money. If more Americans had gardens – more specifically, organic gardens – they would spend less on food, but also they would learn to appreciate the taste of fresh fruits and vegetables. This would increase demand for food from small organic farms and farmers’ markets, and force the large agriculture conglomerates to provide better, healthier products.
Another side effect would be improvements in health from the exercise you get while gardening and eating healthier foods.
During World Wars I and II, Americans planted Victory Gardens.
The United States Department of Agriculture encouraged the planting of victory gardens during the course of World War II. Around one third of the vegetables produced by the United States came from victory gardens. It was emphasized to American home front urbanites and suburbanites that the produce from their gardens would help to lower the price of vegetables needed by the US War Department to feed the troops, thus saving money that could be spent elsewhere on the military: “Our food is fighting,” one US poster read. By May 1943 there were 18 million victory gardens in the United States – 12 million in cities and 6 million on farms.
Today, we need victory gardens to win back our health from an industrial agriculture industry that is literally killing us. It’s time to get off our couches and go play in the dirt. (Those of you in northern regions of the country might have to wait until Spring – so request some seed catalogues and start planning.)
* The word “dacha” originated in the 17th century from the verb “davat’” (to give), in reference to plots of land distributed by the Tsar.