Sunday, April 29, 2007

To veg, or not to veg.

So here's the dilemma: how much effort (and space) do I put into growing vegetables this summer? Vegetables require much more attention than flowers and shrubs. This summer, I am hoping to add hardscapes and other structural elements to my garden. And then there's my paying job. I want to be sure that I don't bite off more than I can chew, so to speak. This summer, I am reluctantly cutting back on the veg.

A friend of mine has, with each passing year, decided to turn more of her garden over to perennials, fruit trees, and such. She figures that the produce farmers who sell at the local farm markets can raise her veggies for her.

No matter how many vegetables I grow, I still make a weekly trip to the farmers' market. So why not plan to get all my veggies there? This year, that argument has a strong appeal.

However, I read in the Pioneer Press that many Hmong farmers are having trouble renting land this year. Many of them are city dwellers, who rely on rented farmland outside the city to grow their crops. Housing development is a prime factor in making it harder for them to find rental parcels. This year, some are reporting that landowners who had rented them small parcels in the past are choosing to use that land for corn this year.

And that reminded me of Michael Pollan's recent piece in the New York Times, You Are What You Grow.

After explaining how the current farm bill encourages the production of corn and soybeans, which are turned into the added sugars and fats in processed foods, Pollan writes, "the farm bill does almost nothing to support farmers growing fresh produce."

Indeed, the experience of Hmong farmers in St. Paul seems to suggest that the current farm bill actually works against certain farmers who grow fresh produce.

And they are among the farmers who grow my produce. So yeah, it is personal.


furrow35 said...

How can you cut back on growing vegtables??
There is nothing like vine ripened produce from your own garden ;)

peter hoh said...

I know, it's heresy. On the other hand, at the end of last season, I filled in my large vegetable bed with perennials left over from divisions.