Creating our own Livelihoods

Be your own cheap labor: Turn your lawn into a garden

By Nancy Oden, Special to the BDN
Posted Oct. 03, 2012, at 4:21 p.m.
 

 
 
 

Nancy Oden is pictured in her Jonesboro garden recently, harvesting the medicinal herbs goldenrod and tansy.

Peter Aldridge
Nancy Oden is pictured in her Jonesboro garden recently, harvesting the medicinal herbs goldenrod and tansy.

All this talk about “economic recovery” is delusional. This economy is not going to “recover.” What we had is gone forever.

Economies around the world are being deliberately crashed by Wall Street, banks such as Goldman-Sachs and owners of large corporations. They’re working hard to destroy the gains workers have made over hundreds of years, so they can return us to near-feudal times when workers were completely at the mercy of owners.

Their object is the Holy Grail of the extremely wealthy and their corporations: cheap labor. Corporations and their bought-government are replacing local workers with cheap foreign labor at an accelerating pace. Even poor-paying jobs are now given to cheap foreign labor.

One cannot blame the laborers who come here to work, or who take formerly American jobs outsourced to their countries; they’re desperate people, just as the corporations want the rest of to be, so we’ll do anything and work for any pittance to survive.

There’s no morality involved; it’s all about the money and how much more corporations can pocket every quarter.

The market knows no right or wrong, only profits.

The situation is difficult to accept, but accept it we must since neither you, nor I, have the power to stop this downhill slide.

So what can we do instead? What are our resources? We have lots of land and lots of water. This suggests, of course, the growing of food.

We can grow food in our own yards so we’re not dependent on industrial food from far away. Our gardens do not need pesticide poisons, thus saving money and insuring our better health.

While working in our raised-bed garden (raised beds are the most efficient and easiest way to grow food), we are getting healthy exercise, thereby lowering our risk of diabetes, obesity, cancer and other ills associated with a couch-potato lifestyle.

Once we taste our homegrown food, and have saved thousands of dollars by growing even a small garden, then we can grow more next year so there’s enough to share or sell locally. We can expand to become small, organic (no-spray, if you prefer that term) farmers growing diverse crops for local consumption.

This is a satisfying, productive livelihood and an excellent way to raise a family. Children learn the value of work on a farm; they will need this important life skill for the not-so-bright future.

A few schools in Maine already have teaching gardens, but we need to make growing food a part of every school’s curriculum. The old, one-room schoolhouses used to have gardens the students worked. This was always a good idea.

People in cities and towns should grow some of their own food, too. No excuses. There are sunny windows, empty lots, rooftops, parks and, importantly, those ecological dead zones called lawns. Lawns offer no sustenance to bees, birds, small animals or people. They can easily be turned into productive gardens.

Fill your lawn with 2-foot-high (or any height over a foot) bottomless boxes about 4-feet-wide by however long you like. Build them from untreated wood, stones, fake rocks, bales of hay, whatever. Just don’t use old railway ties; they’re toxic.

Don’t use “biosolids” as soil since it’s virtually certain to be sewer sludge brought in from away and composted to look like soil.

Build your raised bed garden(s) now. Begin filling them with kitchen and yard waste: leaves, wasted food, grass clippings that don’t have herbicide and other clean, organic materials. This will save you money, as you won’t have to pay for their disposal, and it will reuse these good, organic materials.

These materials will rot down over winter. You can keep putting this compost into your raised beds as you fill it up with good soil. Keep one to two piles composting all the time for fertilizer. Good compost is all a good garden needs, ever.

With a raised bed, or even large containers you can set in the sun, you will never need a rototiller, only a small (9-inch or so) hand-held rake to ruffle the soil in the spring. Then you just plant your seeds, pull weeds (eat the dandelions in salads), water if necessary and harvest your own food. It’s easy and pleasant work.

Gardens in our own yards mean we need less money to live comfortably, we’ll be healthier, and we can feel more secure for ourselves and our families. This is our future.

It’s best to start now being more self-sufficient so we’re immune to high food prices and food shortages. Meanwhile, subscribe to “Mother Earth News” and other self-sufficiency publications, plant trees around your house for food and shade and start those raised-bed gardens now. Encourage your friends and neighbors to do the same.

These are age-old skills we need to relearn and put into use again.

Because we do not have the right — at this time — to make the larger political and financial decisions that affect our lives, which would be real democracy — the original purpose of the American Revolution — we need to become as self-sufficient as possible for the difficult times to come.

Nancy Oden is an organic grower in Washington County. You can send questions about organic, raised-bed gardening to her at cleanearth@acadia.net.