Not everyone has a garden in which to grow their own usable resources, but there are many who do, and when I walk the through Bolton Council estate that I live on almost of the social housing in the area have front and back gardens to their properties. Yet it is these people who are suffering from food poverty. There are one or two families close by who grow their own fruit and veg, but most either use their gardens for the kids to play in, or they stick a conifer and a few rows of seasonal bedding plants in the sidings of their lawns every year. Just over two years ago we offered some local residents growing kits, which consisted of a small upright plastic covered greenhouse, seeds. soil and raised beds, in many cases people were not interested and didn’t take us up on the offer of a free growing kit. But things change and many have realized that growing their own food is a workable alternative set against a backdrop of brutal imposed austerity measures. We already have a list of names of people who want a growing kit in the spring of 2014, and we are only in the middle of October now, so no doubt we will have more takers along the way before we hit spring.
How much usable resources can be grown in an urban garden?
Our garden is fairly average sized being around 30ft long by around 20ft wide, when we used the garden more heavily for food production before securing our allotment plots we managed to grow enough potatoes to see us from June until October, four large pots provided us with an abundance of Courgettes throughout the summer and into the early, we usually also have a supply of tomatoes that last from June until early October, and crops such as salad leaves can be sown virtually all year round and can be grown in any containers, and I don’t remember the last time I actually paid for herbs to use in cooking and medicinal preparations. The garden also provides me with enough hops for make around 250 pints of home brewed beer every year, and our grape vine on a good year will give us around twenty bottles of wine. As I have mentioned in other related posts on our website, the use of vertical growing space is very important when you are trying to maximize your yield within a limited space. Crops that do well using vertical spaces range from beans, peas, vine fruit, through to tumbling tomato varieties and some squashes and edible gourds. cut and come again crops are also useful in a smaller garden as many of these crops will give you fresh salad leaves throughout the season. If planned right through timed successive sowing there is no reason why a garden of the size of ours at home couldn’t provide the basic materials for at least two meals a day, included in this rough calculation will be food that has been frozen, pickled or stored in some way. We also have chickens in our garden that provide us more eggs than we need, sometimes we trade eggs for fruit and veg that other people have grown.
Growing food and strong communities
Aside from the important fact that local community and household food production can do much towards combating the effects of imposed economic austerity measures, growing your own food on estates like ours is a good way of getting people talking and interacting, particularly if the family has children. During the last few years we have met around a dozen people in the broader area purely out the interest of growing food. Outside of the family garden many local primary schools are keen to engage their pupils in growing projects, and in many cases if you approach the schools with a view to developing a food growing project, almost all will oblige, and a good many primary Schools have spare land on which food can be cultivated. Although purely conjecture I can only see the monetary system and the measures used to keep this system afloat as becoming more extreme in the coming years, although this will have terrible consequences for millions, it is likely that a great many people will respond by growing their own food, and in the process new relationships and communities formed and forged.