Yesterday was most definitely a wierd and exciting day. At around 4pm, Local News Channel 5 had called me inquiring about my baby chicks. At first I thought, “Oh NO!!! I’m busted!” Which then turned to, “Wait… it’s legal, how could they possibly know about my chicks?” Come to find out, someone in their news room had read my blog and found it interesting that I was raising baby chicks for eggs right here in the Des Moines Metro. When the reporter came over to interview her first question was Why? I guess I never took the time to explain my reasoning behind these baby chicks. When it comes down to it, it’s not about chickens but Community Supported Agriculture, our Local Foods Movement, and Urban Sustainability.
If anyone knows me, they know I HEART Des Moines, Iowa. I enjoy meeting new peeps in our community and learning new things. In the Spring of 2005, before my firstborn son was born, I started my first garden in my backyard. A few people at my church were starting some gardens so I thought it would be fun to try and grow something. I bought a few tomato, pepper and cucumber plants and anxiously awaited for the fruit of my labor. Unfortunately, my backyard is VERY shady so although, I had beautiful plants growing, not much fruit developed. However, that first bite of my first tomato is inexplainable. I couldn’t believe how good tomato’s were. It was juicy, ripe, and FRESH!! I was hooked! Going back to the grocery store just wasn’t the same.
It was during that first year that I noticed many people gathering and gardening together on Franklin Avenue. After many days of jogging by I finally stopped by to see what these people were doing. It was a community garden! An Organic Community Garden! Wow!!! It was so cool. Our great metro that we live in has dedicated many areas throughout the city for this purpose. Residents in an area gardening together to grow produce, learn and share from one another. The City of Des Moines, Iowa provides the plots, compost and water free of charge as long as you seed, weed and most importantly grow organic. (The Des Moines Community Garden Coalition) It was perfect for me. The plots are in direct sunlight and I now had a community of gardeners to learn from. I quickly signed up for the following year. I now had to learn about this whole ORGANIC thing!
I quickly turned to the internet and started learning all I could about growing Organic. (This could be another post on it’s own) I then started learning about the benefits of growing Organic. Going to the grocery store all of my life, I never stopped to think about how that produce or food for that matter got there. I blindly went in, believed that everything in there was good for you and shopped. I never thought about pesticides, chemicals, preservatives and the harm that this could potentially do to ones body. (A great book to read, Kitchen Literacy, How We Lost Knowledge of Where Food Comes from and Why We Need to Get It Back.) I never thought about the alarming cancer rates and the links that it has to the food we ingest. It was about this time that I became pregnant with my firstborn son and that’s when it really hit me. What am I going to be feeding my baby? What chemicals are in the foods that my baby will be eating? Do I always want my family to be dependent upon what food is at the grocery store?
That following year, I stepped it up in the garden. I planted radishes, lettuce, swiss chard, tomatos, peppers, eggplants, cucumbers, beans, peas and zucchini. I learned from so many great gardeners and made some great friendships. It’s through these friendships and this community of people that have a joy for growing and producing their own food that I started to learn about the Buy Fresh, Buy Local committment right here in the Metro. A whole world of healthy, fresh and local foods opened up to me! I had no idea that you could eat this way. That you could buy directly from the farmer. Why was I spending my money on factory bred animals pumped up on hormones and antibiotics when I could get hormone free, antibiotic free, meats, dairy and eggs right here from Iowa.
One thing I would like to stress is that many people believe that you have to go to the health food stores and pay way too much money to eat this way. This is completely FALSE!! I don’t spend my money at Health Food Stores, I buy directly from the farmer. When you buy directly from the farmer you pay just about the same as you do at the grocery store! You’re not only benefitting your family but your supporting and keeping our local farmers in business and promoting Sustainability. Check out… Practical Farmers of Iowa
As you can imagine, I was pretty excited about the whole Local Foods movement. This will now be my fifth gardening season. This is my first season starting plants from seeds and my goal now is to be able to store, can and freeze enough food to get us through the winter. The more and more I learn about gardening, local foods and urban farming, the more excited I get to move to a slower lifestyle and more sustainable way of living.On my final note… I would like to stress that I don’t buy all Organic and Local all the time. I only do what I can with the money God has given me and my family. One small step at a time 🙂
In Part II… A list of vendors and farmers I support in our community as well as local buying clubs so you to can buy Organic and support our local Buy Fresh Buy Local movement.