On the Edge of Common Sense 8-10-09
August 10, 2009
Mrs. First Lady Obama’s organic gardening is good for all of us involved in agriculture. So few citizens have the time or interest or space to grow anything they eat, that they have no way to relate to the land and what it takes to make it fruitful. Even fewer know how to can or preserve their home-grown produce for the winter’s larder.
She, the First Lady, is a modern suburban dweller and has adopted the banner of “organic,” which has now morphed into a brand name like NAVY or Danish Ham. I doubt she could explain the difference except to say “no hormones or chemicals” but it doesn’t make any difference. Organic has become a great niche market for “real” farmers, too. It is a high end product like prime beef, wild salmon, or Roquefort cheese.
However, home gardening may be making a comeback, whether you choose to use chemical fertilizer or fresh chicken manure, Sevin or to hoe your own weeds. People out of work have more time on their hands and are on a budget. As Steve said, “When you’ve got enough to eat you’ve got lots of problems. When you don’t have enough to eat, you have one problem.”
This spring a group of my church members planted a community garden. It’s the size of a good Iowa farmer’s front lawn! I don’t know if it’s organic but it takes a lot of work; weeding, watering, fighting bugs, birds, rabbits, and all manner of vermin and varmints. It probably won’t produce enough food to sustain a family, but it will offer a few weeks of fresh corn on the cob, squash, onions and tomatoes to spice up a meal. And it didn’t cost much, just seeds and chicken wire. That’s if you don’t count the cost of labor, which, of course, farmers never do!
And yes, I do have a garden. It looks like the solitary confinement cell in Cool Hand Luke! It is javelina, jack rabbit, locust, bird, rattlesnake, rat, cottontail and cowdog proof! Good enough for six rows of jalapenos and tomatoes. You’d think I’d have an abundant crop, alas, this morning I called the extension service Master Gardner.
DIAGNOSIS: Blossom end rot.
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ETIOLOGY: Too much water.
TREATMENT: Stop it!
So Mrs. First Lady, you are setting a good example, as am I. But obviously even with our own gardens, we can’t hardly feed ourselves, much less our neighbors. I mean, you must have lots of company! And that is why we continue to place the burden of feeding the world on the backs of our country’s farmers and ranchers who, by using modern agricultural practices are able to keep up with the globe’s ever increasing appetite.
And we as a grateful nation thank them for giving us the time to worry about politics, what to wear, energy, global cooling, writing a column, Supreme Court appointments, bank foreclosures and media critics, because thanks to them we don’t have to worry that our children are going to bed hungry tonight.