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Yes, we still have Monarchs in our area.  I took the photo above on Sunday when I saw five Monarchs down at the Garland Community Garden, along with numerous other types of butterflies and bees, our most important pollinator of all.  Plant-based local economies offer many benefits for us all.

Plant-Based Local Economies Offer Residents Many Opportunities for Health, Wealth and Security

The mission of Loving Garland Green is to increase the number of people in our community who grow at least some of the food they eat. When people grow some of the food they eat, the entire community and its local economy are lifted up—in health and wealth, and perhaps even more important— they have a firmer truer grasp on the unlimited potential of their own human achievement.

This weekend (October 17, 2015) members of Loving Garland Green did our part to exemplify the expanded profitability offered by a plant-based economy.  We held a seed and plant sale that also included bird feeders we made from pinecones.  The seeds we sold were saved from plants that we had grown ourselves, and of course the plants were those that we had grown ourselves from seeds that we had previously saved.  Like Nature, plant-based economies follow the natural cycle of life itself.

Our sale netted $100 profit.  We were at the Garland Community Garden for five hours.  On an hourly basis, we reaped $20 an hour for the products we created from plants that we grew.  The pinecones for the bird feeders came from a member’s yard.  Yes, one could argue there was the time spent creating the bird feeders, but really that was a party—not work.  There were no bosses.  There was no time clock, no dress code.  Instead of an eight-hour day, it was a two hour and thirty minute evening of laughter and fun.  One family could have done what we did this weekend and with the same results or better.

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Many people don’t realize that until World War II, plants provided the primary raw materials used to produce chemicals, paints, construction materials, clothing and other household materials.  The first plastic produced was a cotton-derived product designed to replace ivory.  Unfortunately the chemical industry hijacked the plastics market with its low-cost toxic plastics made from oil.

Today, however, the market has changed due to the rising price of oil and the growing concern regarding health and environmental impacts of plastic.  Today, plant-based plastics (also called bio-plastics) are being developed from renewable, plant-based materials. 

To move toward a local plant-based economy is to move with the wave of economic change for the future that has already begun.  A USDA report written by professors at Duke University and North Carolina State University stated that plant-based manufacturing contributed $369 billion to the nation’s economy in 2013 and created four million jobs.  As a result of these finding, in June of 2015 the USDA said it’s expanding a program to develop the use of plant-based plastic, rubber and fiber used in manufacturing. Europe is already far ahead of us in these areas.

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So, what is the basic formula for an individual to follow for helping to create a local plant-based economy?

1. Find out what plant(s) grow well in your area.

2.  If you think of yourself as a non-gardener, choose plants that require little attention and will yield food that you like to eat.  Most often these plants will be native to your area and will also be perennial.

3.  Start small and build out from there each year.  A little success goes a long way to fuel future endeavors.

4.  Join a group such as Loving Garland Green who are devoted to increasing the number of locally grown edibles in your community.

5.  Inspire your local community leaders and elected officials to get involved in promoting urban agriculture for your community.

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If you want to think more about how you and your community might further urban agriculture, read this report from Richmond, California.

http://www.ci.richmond.ca.us/DocumentCenter/Home/View/8291

You can also join Loving Garland Green as we have several community initiatives in the works that could be just waiting for you to lead:

  • Fallen Fruit Cooperative –a group of citizens identify all the areas in our city where fruit is falling to the ground and rotting.  The next step in this program would be to contact owners of these trees and contract to either gather on the halves, or to gather all for free in some cases.  This fruit would then be taken to a central location where it would be sorted and then distributed to food banks and sold to local restaurants and residents.

  • Uncooked Veggie Harvesters – a group of citizens coordinate pick up of spoiled uncooked vegetables from grocery stores and deposit them in the compost area at the Garland Community Garden.  This program could grow into a moneymaking enterprise as tons of such recyclable waste currently go to landfills.  If the group obtained space for storing and turning the organic waste, they could make compost for the community and also sell commercially to nonresidents.

  • Blackberry Madness --The only edible that grows better than okra in the Garland area are blackberries.  Loving Garland Green encourages residents to plant the thornless varieties in their yards.  My own four blackberry bushes, which are only two and a half years old, have consistently produced over 50 pounds of berries each year for the past two years.  Blackberries freeze easily and unlike some berries, are not mushy when thawed.   I looked at the price of 12 ounces of blackberries last night and saw they are at $4.94.  My freezer is stocked with bags of the ones that I grew myself.  If we could find several unused lots in our community we could start a blackberry farm—right here in Garland.  Merchants could also grow them in pots in front of their stores down on the square.  Currently we have about 20 blackberry bushes growing at the Garland Community Garden.  Blackberries are not only used for food, they are also the basic material for several kinds of cosmetic products such as body lotion.  Apparently the antioxidant qualities of blackberries make them excellent skin conditioning material.
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