Gardening Trends â…˜ – Loving Local
By: Rob Sproule
“Serve the kind of food you know the story behind.”
-““ Michael Pollan
Growing Our Own:
What’s in your salad? The immediate answer is “lettuce and tomatoes,” but what’s their history? The lettuce may be from California, the tomatoes from Mexico. How were they grown, when were they picked and what were they sprayed with? The stories behind our food are getting more complex, and we’ve gotten skeptical. Add the lower nutrition levels and rising cost of imported food, and a quiet revolution happens.
In 2017, we’ll continue our surge of interest in growing our own food. Local food is, increasingly, the only food we trust. Growing our own food is one part of the larger trend towards produce, meat, baking, and other foodstuffs that we want to know the story behind. At the greenhouse, I’ve watched countless new customers, many of whom were new to gardening, scoop up microgreens, veggie seeds, seed potatoes, garlic, and everything else in record numbers. Be it for the sake of their pocket book, fitness, family health, or simply knowing what has gone into that tomato you’re eating, interest in home-grown continues its slow explosion.
Learn how to grow your own food!
Local vs. Organic:
A lot of people ask me what the difference between local and organic is, sometimes admitting that they’ve been assuming that they’re the same thing. They’re apples and oranges. Organic means food grown without pesticides, synthetic fertilizers, or genetic modifications. Sound simple? It gets complicated quickly. While only growers who meet strict guidelines can be certified as organic, non-organic producers tend to adopt the name, or the implication.
On top of that, countries wishing to import “organic” food make “equivalency arrangements” with the Canadian government to define what will, and what won’t be, called organic. More on that here.
“Local” means food grown close by, though not necessarily organically. The smaller the producer (i.e.. Farmers’ Markets or your own backyard) the more you can trust the term. When deciding what’s best for the plant, we sometimes have to choose between the carbon footprint of importing organic food vs. the chemicals used in growing locally. Canadians are increasingly choosing local options, and the trend toward growing our own continues to skyrocket.
Our love of local doesn’t stop with edibles. Native plants are flying off shelves in record numbers, driven by concerns about environment, ease of care, and changing weather conditions. In California, ravaged by drought, people are planting natives because they require little supplemental watering, while people with tropical, water-intensive gardens are being shamed online. While we’re in a different situation, water conservation is climbing to top-of-mind and natives are the way to get there.
Environmentally, native plants are a win-win. They attract pollinators and beneficial predators into your yard, which in turn increases your edibles’ yield and reduces the need to spray toxins. Lazy gardeners (myself included), are turning to natives. Overwintering is a breeze, they require little synthetic fertilizer, and they’ll host garrisons of hungry predators to keep the pests at bay.
Aesthetically, loving natives doesn’t have to mean resigning yourself to a scruffy, untamed yard. An increasing array of contemporary design options, from prairie grass-scapes to xeriscaped rock-gardens, are making landscaping with natives more appealing to mainstream gardeners.