Yesterday, Ana Maria DeYoung donated this book, available from Rodale Store, to the Garland Community Garden Little Free Library. Bring a book to exchange for it and take it home to read if you’ve been thinking about getting some urban chickens but haven’t made up your mind yet. If you did already take this book from our little free library, I hope you will return it when you are finished reading it as I’m sure others in our community are also interested about the prospect of chickens in their back yards.
ORGANIC GARDENING AND SUSTAINABLE LIFESTYLES -- from quirky advocates to mainstream supporters
“Healthy soil, healthy food, healthy people” J.I. Rodale
As mentioned in a previous post, I came across my copy of the Special Collector’s Issue (Feb/March 2015) of the ORGANIC GARDENING magazine when I was looking for books and magazines to contribute to the Garland Community Garden Little Free Library.
The magazine has some interesting history. In the spring of 1942 the first copy of Organic Farming and Gardening was sent to 14,000 American farmers. J.I. Rodale was the small-time publisher who was behind this magazine. He believed that synthetic fertilizers and pesticides made food less nutritious and consumers less healthy. That was 1942 and such a notion back then was downright radical. Too bad more people didn’t follow his advice and articles on composting, biodynamic farming and earthworms. As a nation, we would likely be much more healthy today.
Fortunately Rodale didn't pay much attention to other people's opinions. He sent out a coupon with each of those first 14,000 black/white thin copies of Organic Farming and Gardening offering $1 annual subscriptions. The organic movement began with 12 readers who each sent in $1. Today, through the Rodale website readers can get an annual subscription for $15.00. I think the per copy price for the magazine is at about $6.00.
Over 75 years and eight name changes, the magazine became Rodale’s Organic Life in 2015. They also have a great website at https://www.rodalesorganiclife.com
Organic Gardening First Subscriber in 1942
Harry J. Beatty of Kingston New York was the first subscriber to Organic Farming and Gardening. His inked out 1942 order form still hangs of the walls of the Rodale headquarters. In 1957 it was said that age 68 he still “. . . intelligently husbanded the resources of 130 acres of rich, sandy loam of Suydam Farm, laid out over two centuries ago by thrifty Hudson Valley Dutch.”
Favorites from the 2015 Collector's Issue of Organic Gardening
Much of the content from this special issue makes me want to run out and simultaneously begin about 50 projects all at once. Other pieces are thought provoking. I’ll list just a few of my favorites:
- Housing Project for Blue birds—one page complete with an illustration of a bluebird house that you can build. Bluebirds pay rent in the vast numbers of harmful insects they consume every year.
- Silent Spring Two Years Later—one page commentary by Robert Rodale in 1965, two years after Rachael Carson published the first major warning to Americans regarding insecticides that seemed to soak into the minds of a substantial number of people. Prior to the publication of Silent Spring, enlightened scientists had warned us, but it was Ms. Carson's book that brought the issue mainstream. Imagine that! People began to have second thoughts about allowing their children to run behind DDT foggers. Even so the chemical companies went to work to paint Carson as some wacko who didn't know what she was talking about. However, the majority in the world are winning this war. Today there are now large cities all over the world that are pesticide-free.
Small beginnings matter. Nearly 25 years ago, the small town of Hudson in Quebec, Canada (Pop 5,135) became a world leader when it introduced a by-law banning the use of chemical pesticides within the town limits. Cities all over the world are following this example. Today over 170 cities in Canada are pesticide free. In France there are over 900 cities pesticide-free and this include Paris which has been pesticide-free since 2000. Looks like we can live without pesticides, folks.
- Survival in the Wilds of Central Park—a two-page article from August of 1968 written by Euell Gibbons. His lunch included Lamb’s quarter, dandelion, sour grass, peppergrass, sassafras tea, wild onions, dock, crab apple and sunfish.
- Economic Freedom on One Acre – a one-page article about a couple from Maine whose one-acre truck patch brings in $3,000 a year. This did not include the food they grew and ate. This article was published in 1973. Today that $3,000 would be $17,042.26.
- 90 pounds of tomatoes from 5 plants – half-page article. This article is follows a composting method that we use in some of the plots at the Garland Community Garden using a wire mesh cylinder filled with compost. You water the compost and it fertilizes the nearby plants.
- The Problem with Genetic Engineering—two-page article from 2000 that explains clearly how genetic engineering works. The folks at Organic Gardening believe the risks of genetically engineered foods vastly outweigh any benefits. Our biggest concern is not what we know about genetic manipulation, but rather what we don’t know. History, from DDT to Love Canal, has been strewn with the inadvertent consequences of “progress.” With regard to genetically altered life forms, once a mistake is made and released into the environment, there is no certainty it can ever be undone.
- This Collector’s issue of Organic Gardening also contains many interesting recipes. One is titled “Amaranth, Rice and Parmesan pancakes” that I plan to make as I have Amaranth growing in my yard. (Just don’t mention it to my friends.)
The Garland Community Garden - stewarded by Loving Garland Green
Speaking of organic living and organic gardens, we have a rather large example of an organic garden in Garland, Texas. The official stewards of this space are members of Loving Garland Green. Our garden, founded in April of 2014, is completely organic. The closest thing to a pesticide is DE that we use to help control the fire ants. The key word here is "help" because in Garland and all of that strip of land from the Red River southwest through the DFW area ending in San Antonio is heavy clay soil of what was once the Blackland Prairie. The fire ant, believe it or not has an ecological mission: to aerate the soil. Believe me, in our area the fire ant will likely never finish its goal as a species.
At least 70% of all the plants grown in the garden began as heirloom seeds. All but five of the 27 blackberry bushes in garden came from cuttings from the blackberry bushes in my yard.
Our mission is to encourage residents in our community to grow some of the food they eat. We know that when people start to garden, even a little, other aspects of their lives and health will improve as well.
Many community gardens charge a fee for people to garden a certain sized plot. The produce is theirs to keep and there is often not a lot interaction among the gardeners unless they happen to be there at the same time. The Garland Community Garden is different from many community gardens in several ways:
Our garden doesn't look like most community gardens as we have slightly different goals.
1. Our beds vary in shape and material. Our beds are not a bunch of uniformed-sized wooden rectangles. Many of them don't even have a hard border. This makes it easier for mowing. We want to show visitors that gardens come in all shapes and sizes. Make one in your yard or on your patio to fit your needs. The only recommendations we make are 1) no more than 4 feet wide so you can reach to the middle from either side and 2) the bed should be accessible from all sides.
2. We emphasize diversity over production. We are not attempting to produce food for the community, although we do a tiny bit of that. We are more about showing by example how many different vegetables and fruits people can grow in their yards or patios. We have so far demonstrated that you can grow many many different kinds of edibles in our community.
3. We share knowledge more than food with the community. We do have a local charity, the Garland Good Samaritans, that we share 50% of our produce with. Even so, we share our knowledge with them. For example, in April of this year we install eight 27 gallon pots with trellises planted with pole beans at their home. We helped them to create a demonstration garden showing how it's possible to grow great edibles in a tiny urban space.
4. We ask that the people who garden in the Garland Community Garden also attend Loving Garland Green meetings and participate in our community activities.
5. Our garden is located on a main traffic corridor in our city and thus has high visibility.