May 7th, 2009

Community Kitchen Garden: Are you a Locavore?

by Janine Butler, garden volunteer

 In November 2007 the Oxford University Press announced locavore as the Word of the Year.  No, until recently I had never heard of it either.  But now it seems that I keep hearing, and reading, the word ‘locavore’ more and more often.

What is a locavore?  One definition from a person who attempt to eat only foods grown locally.  Example: Locavores grow their own food or buy foodstuffs grown within their region.

It’s funny though how growing and eating your own vegetables is now popular, even ‘trendy’ enough to have a new term coined.  I remember my Granddad, and many other people of his generation, having an ‘allotment’– a plot of land where he grew his own food. It wasn’t anything special, or out of the ordinary.  It’s just what people did.  He might even have thought the word locavore a bit silly.

But I don’t think that it’s silly.  I think it is great.  I’m not saying that we should abandon big box stores, far from it, but I do think that placing more emphasis and thought on where the food we eat comes from is a good thing.  Buying from and supporting local businesses is also important and a worthwhile cause.
My cousin in England (Hi Selina!) told me about a small town near Leeds, England, called Todmordon where the whole community has taken the locavore movement to the next level.  The town has developed the Incredible Edible Todmorden plan and aims to be self sufficient in vegetables by 2018.  Public flowerbeds have been reclaimed, and turned into vegetable patches and herb gardens.  Local schools are planting fruit trees instead of ornamental trees.  Wasteland near a railway station now has growing beds for all kinds of vegetables. It must have taken a colossal amount of effort to get this plan going, especially convincing the local government to get involved!  I think what they are trying to accomplish is amazing and truly inspiring.

I’m not sure that this is a plan that could happen easily in Richmond.  But we can all participate in smaller ways.  The Community Kitchen garden at Lewis Ginter is one way we can give back to the community.  As I mentioned last week, the Planting Day Celebration is scheduled for Thursday May 14, 9:30am – 10:30am.  Prep work still needs to be completed, but unfortunately the rain is not cooperating right now!  This Saturday a small team of staff and volunteers were supposed to be out there in the garden, mainly spreading mulch and cleaning up the site ready for the Planting Day Celebration.  However, the constant rain that we have had this week has made the ground far too soggy to work in, and so the work has been postponed until next Saturday.  Planning and preparation are essential for a good garden, but Mother Nature seems to be the deciding factor! 

In the meantime, look around your community – perhaps there is a patch of unused land that you can give a veggie makeover?

Janine Butler is a former Garden Volunteer.

You May Also Like