Farming fundamental in feeding the masses

Written by David Everett

A while ago we got a list of the upcoming month’s topics for Alive and this month’s made me figuratively roll my eyes.

Ok, it was probable literal too. ’Organic’ to me is a marketing term, a way to create food elitism and guilt people who can’t afford it to buy it anyway in the mistaken belief that it is better for them.

In case you are wondering, I’m also pro-GMO and pro-nuclear but that is neither here nor there.

Stick with me ok, or at least for another paragraph or so before you also roll your eyes and move on to the next article.
I’m not a fedora hat wearing, nose up in the air ‘well actually, it’s all chemicals’ type proponent for non-organic food but I will make the point that organic grown food cannot feed the world and that organic does not mean pesticide free.

There is nothing wrong with organic food and I won’t begrudge anyone their choice to eat it but when it’s pushed as a panacea to good health and non-organic farming is demonised to increase the sale of organic products, I’ll speak up.

Locally though and on a small scale, organic is where it’s at, at least for those that have the room and resources to grow it.

I’ve had my fair share of vegetable gardens which to be honest haven’t necessarily been the most successful or even marginally successful really.

Sometimes it’s a lack of follow through, other times it’s just not really knowing what the heck I’m doing.

Another time though it was because I read that letting chickens into your veggie patch is a great way to get rid of weeds and pests. It did work but considering they also ate all of our fresh seedlings, established plants and wrecked my beautiful neat furrows so ‘worked’ is probably more accurate than ‘successful’.

I am of course the living embodiment of the $20 tomato. I get enthused about making the garden beds and setting everything thing up ready for a grand harvest but then fail to properly manage the plants, not really understand what I’m doing, fail to recognise diseases before they take hold, overwater everything and then not water enough, and then at the end of it all, finishing with a dozen beautiful tomatoes and a basket of stunted zucchini and capsicums to show for our investment of time and money.

Needless to say, I am incredibly impressed by anyone that knows what they are doing and can make it work, especially in the suburbs. Then if they can do it by managing the pests and getting quality produce through organic techniques I’m in awe.

I have a dream yard should we ever get to own our own place again and it is organic or at least along organic lines.

My pool is ‘chemical free’ by being filtered through sand, plants and the intestines of native fishes, there is a large centrally located raised veggie beds where everything is rotated and gives enough for us to share with those around us, a couple of native bee hives strategically placed and a corner that is a miniature rainforest.

Also a pumpkin on a trellis. I don’t know what it is about the idea of a pumpkin on a trellis but the idea of it has captivated me since accidentally growing one on a wire fence many years ago. Watching the stalk getting thicker and thicker so as to compensate for the weight of the gourd was fascinating.

I also like the idea of growing carrots that aren’t lush green tops with deformed miniature orange blobs attached or broccoli that isn’t destroyed by pests. Maybe even time the intermittent planting of lettuces so that we can continuously graze them rather than eating two and watching the rest go to seed.

Ah, the simple things in life that I am sure I am capable of but just like fishing, never quite manage to be successful at. Happily though there are other fields that I can hold head up high about so swings and roundabouts.