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Let’s Start A Trend
by Dan Clost
by Dan Clost

email: dan.clost@sympatico.ca

First serious garden earned 25 cents from the Kemptville Horticultural Society when I was 12. Have been poor in horticulture ever since but rich in spirit.

Went to work writing the Good Earth column (over 500 articles published in newspaper, magazine, website and journal.) and learned that what was printed wasn't what I wanted to say and certainly not what Gentle Reader understood me to say. Subsequently have developed a certain clarity and economy of words.

Day job- nursery and production manager for a large nursery/garden centre
Side job- Garden restoration and renovations, design consultations, remedial pruning.
Night job- garden writer and communicator (overnight success in another 20 years)

Dan gardens in Canadian Zone 5b


September 21, 2014

There is nothing new under the sun when it comes to growing things. From the discovery of fertilisers (probably when nomads noticed that the grass grew greener where the herds slept last year), to the use of pesticides (would you believe 4500 years ago the Sumerians were using sulphur?) and up to the evolution in mechanical harvesting everything has been variations on a theme.

One underlying theme has been “back to the garden.” It doesn’t matter if we call it Eden, Jannah, the Garden of Empowering Liberation, Sacred Ways Grove (more than one faith group uses this term) or plain old “Back To The Land”, there seems to be something within us that has an elemental pull as old as the land itself.

Sometimes grass roots trends will be captured by the global community and be translocated world-wide; fair trade being one good example. Sometimes, the practice will stay localized.

It is true that not all of us are fortunate enough to have a garden but it is equally true that all of us are nourished by food grown in a “garden.” This is where our personal grass roots movement could start- with the food we eat. We have the amazing good fortune to live in an active, diverse agriculturally rich part of the entire planet. Everything that we need can be purchased from local producers either in the supermarkets, at farmer’s markets or at the farm gate. Can each of us afford to do that? I don’t think so but certainly we can start. If you can drive to the grocery store or take public transit, then you can make it to the farmer’s market. You can talk the actual grower of the food and learn exactly what went into the tomato that you are holding in your hand. Compare the taste of a Waupoos tomato to one shipped in from California. Now, think of the difference of giving the farmer a dollar as opposed to spending it in a supermarket. All of the costs and taxes that accrued to the tomato during harvesting, processing, packaging, shipping and handling and marketing in a conventional retail outlet are added up in the latter. That dollar gets splits up with a goodly chunk going to the government of day- doesn’t matter if it is a GST, a VAT, or HST, the government will get its “share.” The farmer’s dollar is required to split off some for the same government but the major portion is in the farmer’s hands. That dollar stays in the community and is spent in the community; we feed ourselves, support our farmers, and keep the money in our community...

I stated earlier that we can get everything we need right here in our community: I didn’t say we can get everything we want. We want lettuce in January and strawberries in February but we don’t need them. For those of us old enough to remember, many homes had root cellars and cold storage rooms. We stored root crops such as potatoes, carrots, parsnips and turnips. We waxed and hung cabbages. We also made preserves from fresh produce when it was in season. We could have strawberry jam in February.

It is easy to go the market in August and buy locally grown corn on the cob. It is easy to buy strawberries in June, tomatoes in August, and squash in October. Here’s a grass roots idea I am suggesting we can adopt according to our resources: let’s get to preserving and storing food as much as we can. Think of a nice winter meal such as mashed potatoes, turnips or squash, a coleslaw with carrots and cabbage, a meat or fish of your choice (purchased locally, cut , wrapped and frozen in your freezer) with a bit of fruit cobbler for dessert. We can make the 100 mile diet, the reduced carbon footprint, and the back-to-the-land movement trend a year round affair.

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