I recently read this inspiring article online about Russian’s small scale organic gardening model for producing food for the country here. “In 1999, 35 million small family plots produced 90% of Russia’s potatoes, 77% of vegetables, 87% of fruits, 59% of meat, 49% of milk — way to go, people!” There is an article here too. “According to The Bovine, Russia’s Private Garden Plot Act, which was signed into law back in 2003, entitles every Russian citizen to a private plot of land, free of charge, ranging in size from 2.2 acres to 6.8 acres. Each plot can be used for growing food, or for simply vacationing or relaxing, and the government has agreed not to tax this land. And the result of this effort has been phenomenal, as Russian families collectively grow practically all the food they need.” Here is another great quote: “Today, however, the area taken up by lawns in the US is two times greater than that of Russia’s gardens – and it produces nothing but a multi-billion-dollar lawn care industry.”
If this is all true it is amazing and makes one wonder if we can in this country move in that direction? There is definitely some youthful energy here wanting to garden. Before I left for the farm stand yesterday, I saw a group of men and women cleaning up the weeds and garbage from the empty parking lot across the street. Then when I got back much later they were still at it, with a huge pile of weeds, making a space to plant trees along a south facing fence, so ideal for growing fruit!
Access to free land is the issue at least in the bay area and I don’t see this as happening in the near future.
The Free Farm Stand though is a way for us to imagine a movement like this. Can we see in our dreams more and more people coming to the stand with small surplus gifts from their gardens? I met a man who goes to our church who this week brought me a small bag of radishes and arugula from his backyard garden. This is exactly how we can make our dreams come true even on the tiniest scale and it is the movement forward towards our goal of feeding our neighborhood one garden at a time which is important.
we still get Trombone squash from the garden this late inthe year and you can feed a family with each one
wearable squash as ornament
I wanted to give a shout out to Rainbow Grocery Cooperative who has given the No Penny Opera who runs the Free Farm Stand and the Free Farm a generous grant of $1,000. We will use this money to keep our workhorse van maintained and buy seeds and supplies for the Free Farm and the small amount of supplies we use at the Stand. We really appreciate the great work they do supporting small grass root projects like ours.