The Jackson County Master Gardeners Association will host the 14th Annual Gardening Symposium at the Higher Education Center in Medford this Saturday, November 3rd, 2012. The event will feature dozens of classes designed to support Rogue Valley gardeners. Specific information about the event and registration materials can be found on the Master Gardener Association website.
My interest in the garden symposium revolves around my passion for home food production. Growing a bit of your own food has a number of benefits which include the creation of habitat for beneficial insects, fresh and healthy produce, the security of food close to home, and the ability to play a role in creating something alive and beautiful. In terms of sustainability, community food production such as home gardening and community gardening encourages self-reliance, simplicity, and a bit of freedom from industrial agribusiness.
Both my personal research and the research of the National Gardening Association suggest that home gardening produces roughly $1.00 of food per square foot of production. If you plan to grow a significant amount of culinary herbs or berries, that number will be even higher. That may not seem like all that much, but I had a participant in a study of home gardening a couple of years ago who managed to produce over $10,000 worth of produce on her suburban property. That is a pretty serious contribution to the annual food budget.
Though cost savings is certainly one reason to consider growing a food garden, it is certainly not the only reason. For me, the garden is a place of peace. It is a place where I connect with the world, the seasons, and my children. In the garden, we are a team, contributing collectively to a healthier planet and a healthier family. For others, the garden is a place for meditation. For still others, it is a platform for expression, creativity, and beauty. Living a healthier and more sustainable life can be both rewarding and difficult. In the case of home gardening, it is just rewarding.
If you haven’t yet taken the leap into home food production, you really must. But I must warn you, successful home gardening requires just a bit of preparation and planning. Now is the time to start thinking about what you might wish to grow come spring. If you don’t know where to begin, or if you are an experienced food gardener who wants to take production to a new level, check out the symposium this weekend. Happy gardening.