Mar 20, 2014

Growing Locally on the First Day of Spring with Joel Salatin

This is why I look forward to the Virginia Festival of the Book every year: inspiring talks like the one I just attended on Growing Locally. Joel Salatin is a farmer and owner of Polyface Farm in beautiful Shenandoah Valley in Virginia and he spoke to a Standing Room Only crowd at the Artisan's Market, (must return there for some shopping), and inspired a room of listeners.
Joel Salatin, Polyface Farm

In his talk, Joel highlighted five basics to a return to eating whole foods (of which I can only remember one):
1) Return to your kitchens

But this was the basis for all of the other points. We eat out, we buy processed foods, we shop frequently. Joel encouraged eating what you, yourself produce or purchase from local farms, cooking and preparing whole foods, (single ingredient foods combined and prepared in our own kitchens,) and growing foods to sustain not only ourselves, but our neighbors.
Joel speaks and signs his books at The Artisan's Market

This was a particularly important and inspiring reminder for me - the homeschooling mother of two. At the end of the day, have I taught my children to be self-sufficient, on the most basic level? It is the first day of spring, so can we begin today, the first day of a new growing season, and make sustainable living/growing an intrinsic part of our "curriculum"?

Probably one of the most interesting snippets came as the result of a question from a member of the audience. One lady asked, "how can city planners help communities make a return to growing locally?" (That's me, paraphrasing.) Joel pointed to a city that had put in place safeguards that would protect an urban community's right to produce AND prepare foodstuffs without the interference of bureaucrats. In short, anyone, with a tomato bush, an urban flock, or a goat, can produce foodstuffs in their kitchen and sell it to their neighbors without government interference. (This means, no labeling, no oversight, no restrictions.) And it does seem to me that this one act would go a long way toward ensuring that no one lives in a food desert.

The other eye opening discussion came out of this question, asked by another member of the audience: how large a tract of land is required to grow sustainably. Joel's response: as little as a quarter acre. And a white collar income can be had through as little as two acres! He mentioned something called SNAP gardening. So you can be sure I'll be doing some SNAP Googling tonight.

Hopefully, this has whet your appetite, (ha ha - unintentional pun) for more on growing locally/sustainably. Your best bet is to go to the source. This evening, Joel was signing his book on the subject, but you can purchase it through Amazon, here: FIELDS OF FARMERS. See you at the Farmer's Market!

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