At the Growing Summit this past March, I led a group of yardeners in a discussion about being revolutionaries by growing our own food. The virtues of yardening are empowerment and economical independence. By growing our own food, we have freedom of choice in what we eat and how it’s grown.
Joel Salatin, a revolutionary farmer himself, said that “a community that feeds itself is free.” We are free, as the Growing Summit imparted, when we make deliberate choices of eating food that is grown by our own hands or by farmers who live in our community.
The Growing Summit included discussion not only about growing our own food, but also to that of food produced by local farmers. The booths, speakers, and even the hosts of the event, Unity Gardens, were there to persuade us as a community, to feed ourselves.
A community that feeds itself buys from its own producers. The buyers know the people who produce, or can easily be connected to them easily. We can ask about the methods used to grow the food and then make the most informed decisions about what we eat.
The community that feeds itself is free from outside economic support because the money it spends on food stays in that local economy. If the average family’s food bill is $100 per week, that family would spend $5,200 per year. If that family shifted its food spending to locally produced food by 20%, $1,040 would stay in the local economy. If 50%, $2,600; 75%, $3,900; 90%, $4,680 per year. If just 500 families spent 90% of their yearly food budget on locally produced food, those families would keep $2,340,000 in the local economy every year.
A community that feeds itself is free from need when it supports itself through community gardens. Organizations like Unity Gardens supports the community through the free food it offers. Communities that work together to support one another in this way bond together and grow together. Communities that grow food in communal gardens have seen a decrease in rates of robberies and thefts.
A community that grows its own food, one of our most basic needs, is free to determine what it eats, how that food is grown, and ultimately, the quality of life of everyone who lives within it. The Growing Summit is held each year. Its growth in attendance and widening breadth of topics relevant to building healthy communities is an encouraging sign that his community is catching on quickly to those benefits of controlling its own food source.