By LISA BICKNELL
Instead of participating in a Farm Fresh Friday event like last year, some local restaurants are buying from local gardeners to incorporate locally grown vegetables into their menu all this week. The Mexican restaurant bought a sizable amount of produce early in the week and will be serving some fresh tomatoes and peppers with their meals.
If you like knowing where your food comes from, be sure and visit El Ranchito and give them a shout out.
Other restaurant owners, such as those of the Wigwam, Rader’s and Michael’s, say they buy local produce on occasion.
They understandably prefer the convenience of ordering from wholesale companies that deliver in a timely fashion right to their door.
Some would like to buy local, but find that the supply is not always there to meet the demand.
That’s a problem that needs to be addressed, but one that could present opportunity for those with land or access to it.
Finding people to grow vegetables in large amounts is a major challenge, even though there are plenty of unemployed people in this county.
Gardening is very hard work, and not too many folks are that kind of “work brickle” anymore.
I read in last week’s Clay City Times that the Powell County jailer and the inmates there have a five acre garden and plan to plant a ten-acre plot next year. They are hoping to cut costs and teach some responsibility and work ethic too. Our jail is usually well-populated with able-bodied people. Maybe that would work here.
The risks involved with farming scare a lot of people off, with good reason.
Take this year as an example. Local gardeners have again suffered from an excessive amount of rain.
My husband and I planted a few garden plots this year. We worked hard to keep them looking good, then the rains came and the weeds grew.
Now our gardens look more like jungles.
One plot, planted in a rich loamy creek bottom, looked particularly good, until too many three-inch rains raised the creek and flooded it. Our corn and beans stood in flood water until they dissolved into little rotting piles.
That’s the dilemma of being a farmer. You cannot control the weather.
The amount of water that falls from the sky greatly determines the success of crops. Too much, and you can lose everything. Too little, you lose everything.
There are ways of bettering chances of growing successfully, though.
Raised irrigated row crops are an option, as are hoop houses that extend the growing season and allow for some climate control.
It might be worth a try.
I can’t help but wonder sometimes how things got so discombobulated in this country.
Plenty of cattle are raised right here in this county, and a lot of vegetables too, yet our groceries come from places like Mexico and California. Much of it has been sprayed, dyed, waxed and purposefully stunted to retard spoilage.
Who knows where our beef ends up.
I suspect such practices are one reason so many people are sick.
Something needs to change. And things are changing, especially in more urban areas, but more slowly here.
Imagine this dire situation with me. Suppose a major earthquake prevented the trucking in of food supplies.
Or suppose our economy collapsed and food became scarce. How would we eat?
That happened in Cuba a few decades ago.
Cuba had to find another way to survive, and I’ll bet a lot of people grew thin while they re-learned how to grow and produce their own food.
But they adapted. They composted waste and created fertile garden beds within their cities. They did it because they were forced to, but Cuba is now 90 percent self-sufficient in supplying their own food, according to the book I was reading.
Not only are they self-sufficient now, but they grew their economy.
I never thought I’d say maybe we can learn some lessons from Cuba…but maybe we can.