Welcome to Good Dirt Radio reporting on positive solutions taking root.
Widespread dependency on industrial, petroleum-based agriculture is one of the major impacts on climate and ecosystems. We all need food, but food sprayed with toxic chemicals, trucked long distances, then stored for resale… has some consumers paying dearly for that which may not promote health. Einstein said ‘the plant world can provide most everything we need.’ If you believe foodis our best medicine and are concerned with skyrocketing costs and the impact of transport, you may find yourself in good company with others looking to grow organic food at home.
Greenhouses and indoor growing structures can be expensive. But smaller, covered, raised beds offer simple ways to enhance an outdoor garden, for year round growing. Proponents claim they’re inexpensive and easy to build, especially with used building materials, and they provide payback for years to come.
Ken Kuhne, a semi-retired, green builder from Galesteo, NM, promotes sustainability in the world of local food. He designs and builds Grow Y’own covered raised bed kits that offer citizens sustainable, backyard benefits. We asked Kuhne what moved him to get involved in grow beds.
Kuhne: I was motivated to start helping people try to grow their own food just because I wanted to do something to help the planet. Its sort of my Siddhartha of rowing people across the river and it’s a passion I’ve had for a very long time. The raised beds are made out of 2×12 western red cedar from Oregon, FSC certified meaning that its not something like redwood that you cut down and it never replenishes. The hoops are made out of sunlight resistant PVC. And the summer cover is a triple-weight insulate fabric.. It lets water come through it but not beating your plants up. And in the wintertime, we have a 6 mil flexi-glass cover and that lets the sunlight in and holds the heat so you can grow all winter.
Kuhne reports high demand for his components but says folks can easily build home made versions of raised covered growing beds, fashioned from natural or recycled materials,
Kuhne: . Its very simple, its nothing to be intimidated by. You can grow probably forty different kinds of greens and underground crops during the winter and you can grow twice that much during the summer including herbs and edible flowers. The incentive is there to grow your own food. You’re going to save a lot of money and within a three-month period you would easily pay for something that you could build yourself. And then you’re growing free food for the rest of the year. People think that when summer is over that the growing season is over. And in actuality, the growing season is just starting for the next rotation of crops.
Judy Tuwaletstiwa lives near Santa Fe, NM. She is sold on her grow beds and thinks that they have helped change her lifesyle.
Tuwaletstiwa: Once you start eating this way, where you come out just before you eat and you pick your vegetables and then cook them up, what you become aware of is how long the vegetables in the market must be sitting around before they even get to the market. And it really has changed our diet, I didn’t expect that. We started eating all the greens and that’s become the base of our diet now, is the vegetables, with only a tiny bit of meat. We save about half our food budget, its surprising! And, we’ve lost quite a bit of weight. And we’ll plant all winter because there is simply no comparison in either taste, quality or time of cooking.
Growing food can have a positive affect on families with children and elders. Kuhne says his business is flooded with requests from folks rediscovering and reaping the benefits of growing food locally.
Kuhne: I think that the most important thing here is that we’re doing things locally. We’re trying to stop shipping our food supply great distances and at a great cost both nutritionally and economically. And the more we do this the more satisfaction we’re gonna get and the more we’re going to be able to teach our children where our food comes from and they’re going to have an appreciation for their sustenance.
Homeowners and renters alike are getting involved in creating a more sustainable lifestyle right in their backyards. Gardeners can extend growing seasons and create a harvest that saves money, promotes health and reduces one’s carbon footprint. To find out more about our continuing series on local foods please visit us at gooddirtradio.org for more ideas on affordable kits or home made grow beds.
Positive change occurs when millions of people learn about better options and spend their dollars on smart choices. We urge you to get involved in the shift to sustainability in ways that make sense to you.
I’m Tom Bartels and I’m Tami Graham. Thanks for joining us on Good Dirt Radio, digging up good news….for a change.