Garden to table in 15 minutes or less, for just pennies per person
For many reasons, I’ve given up investing in the traditional sense. The ways of the world have not only rendered markets and market metrics unstable and unreliable, they have thrown so many variables into the mix that the best of the best advisors are wrong more than they are right - about the potential or trajectory of crypto, or of gold, or anything at all (except for bank stocks, banks always make money). Given my appetite for peace and security, this doesn't bode well for me.
The only thing I am investing in currently, and heavily, is self-sufficiency and self-reliance, and the general improvement of my family's food system and that of our community (and all that relates).
These days, I spend the majority of my waking hours with my hands in the dirt, head in a book, or soul in the wild, learning everything and anything I can from nature, science, and inherited knowledge keepers, about how to grow nutrient-dense food in nutrient-dense soil, how best to preserve its integrity through preparation or preservation, and how best to improve planetary health in the doing.
What is abundantly clear to me, regardless of what I see and hear across all news platforms, or over the garden gate, is that solving domestic food security issues and regaining control over our own destiny and the destiny of marginalized communities, is where the smart money should go. Stabilize food security and regenerate agricultural systems globally, and we stabilize the planet — a vast generalization of course, but also very true.
Without a doubt, as consumers start voting with their food-buying dollars, we will start to see big money moving at the very highest levels — the very same levels that caused, perpetuate and deny the sad state of affairs we are in currently with regard to food quality, nutrient density, and chronic disease. Money talks, and talks and talks, but it certainly can’t buy happiness.
The good news is that, we don’t have to wait for the tiny net benefits of industrial scale change to trickle down slowly and begrudgingly from the top. We can start today to enjoy huge dividends in physical and mental health and happiness. We can invest at a penny stock level in green, and very quickly reap life-changing rewards.
In my opinion, there is no better return on investment right now, for North Americans, than in creating local food security and/or enabling those who do. Green — organic green preferably — is the new gold. And we can grow as much of it as we like, right now, no experience required.
We are leveling the playing field. Home gardeners, community gardeners, pollinator flower and herb gardeners, natural habitat restorers, and regenerative farmers and investing in our collective future now, in brave and hopeful waves of green — and orange, red, yellow, purple, pink and white.
We are starting to feel and look better, less victimized and more empowered. We are growing rich in health and happiness, and also in purpose.
In my own work I am seeing inspired young people growing food, herbs and edible flowers for personal use but also for sale. They are creating and designing garden tools and inputs, cooking and preserving, generating and saving money, and building righteous communities that thrive independent of industrial systems. I am awestruck by how quickly their enthusiasm ignites success.
I am seeing marginalized seniors re-energized and revitalized at the prospect of sharing garden space and valuable inherited knowledge with younger generations, and also with people struggling with mental health challenges.
I am seeing neighbours sharing homegrown goodness, seeds, advice, and laughter over fences that once divided.
Thousands of Americans and Canadians are growing happiness and purpose from seed. True happiness of the sort that our consumer society has been chasing blindly through accumulation, but to no avail.
For sure we veered off course, but now we know better. We are getting back on track, en-masse, and getting on with it.
The simple act of deciding to invest time and energy in growing the smallest amount of food organically and in the smallest of spaces, and of setting time aside in which to do it, yields immediate results. Layers of physical and mental benefit accumulate in tandem as we grow and feed our bodies nutritious whole food that we know with certainty contains nothing but fresh-picked goodness.
The requisite slowing down, the building of living soil, the planting of seeds or seedlings, the contemplative nurturing, the deliberate harvesting and preparation or preserving — these are all beautiful, intentional, intimate rituals that increase our individual and collective human capital.
Most of us can, if we choose, grow abundantly in limited space on decks and on patios, in small yards and on rooftops. We can and should share our successes and even our failures slowly and deliciously, at table with family and friends.
We can start simply, growing just a handful of hardy, leafy green vegetables. If we pay attention, the plants will teach us what they need to thrive, and in payment provide nourishment.
New to gardening? No worries. Resilient, delicious and ever-cropping nutrient-dense greens like arugula, mustards, kales, chard, spinach, collards and many perennial herbs are surprisingly easy to grow in most growing regions. Greens are easy, greens are gold.
These plants do well in direct or part sun, during all but the coldest and wettest months of the year. They will live happily in healthy soil in pots, planters, raised beds, in the ground, in a recycled fruit box, in a five-gallon bucket drilled with drain holes, even in the boot of an old car.
Ironically, some of the most beautiful, elegant, and nutritious meals that I prepare for my family, are based on a small but perpetual supply of the leaves, tender stalks, shoots and flowers of these most resilient of vegetables — and bonus, all components can be preserved and or frozen for winter consumption.
Kale for example, can be braised, roasted, steamed, sautéed, fried, pickled and preserved. Kale can be used in salads, smoothies in juices, lasagna, kimchi, breads and pasta, soup, tea, even ice cream. The list of delicious and nutritious possibilities is inspiring and endless.
As I write this I am feasting on a steaming bowl of chopped, fresh-picked organic kale (Russian red, and Siberian dwarf) and mustard greens (red mizuna) and flowering shoots, flash sautéed in homegrown garlic and chili-infused olive oil plus remnant white wine, nested in a rich veggie scrap broth into which I stirred a spoonful of white miso.
Garden to table in less than 15 minutes — easy peasy, inexpensive (pennies per person), beautiful, delicious, and most important, highly nutritious.
I grow all of these greens without any fuss at all, from seed, in the spring and again in the fall. By harvesting individual leaves (oldest first) rather than cutting the stalks, the plants respond enthusiastically and repeatedly with new growth.
When the plants do eventually go to seed, they pay out yet again, one final and coveted dividend crop of tender and highly nutritious shoots, and of course seed with which to invest anew.
Start small. Invest in green. Share the wealth.