Social justice gardening

I had an idea.  Ok, I have lots of ideas but this is one that I am actually going to follow up on.  I’ll take you through my tortured train of thought before the little light bulb went off with a oh my and surely someone has thought of this… haven’t been able to find anyone who has.

From all the gardening posts, you guys know by now that I’m a bit obsessed with my new toy — the growing tiny garden I’ve planted.  After the amazing success of re-growing the green onion (I had some from the garden on my sandwich for lunch today!), I started looking into what else you could re-grow.  The answer is celery, garlic, potatoes, romaine lettuce, bok choy and quite a few other things.  The deal, though, is that I can’t afford to buy most of these things (potatoes excepted, but there is not room to grow them) at all and certainly not in the quantity to supply me, much less 12 of my neighbours, with anything more than the occasional nibble.  So that got me thinking.

It got me thinking about restaurants.  They regularly chop up tons of green onions, celery, and lettuce, for instance.  They toss the roots of those veggies into the trash.  Think about it:  In just one day, the average restaurant is going to toss enough green onion roots in the trash that, if re-grown, could supply a hundred people (or more) with all the green onion their hearts desire.

So then I thought, what if I went to a couple of my local restaurants and asked them, for just one day, not to throw those root bits from onions, lettuce, celery, etc.,  away but to toss them in a special bag that I’d collect.  If even one agreed, that would be a huge amount of food down the line.  They would be donating to help others without any cost to their operation whatsoever — talk about a painless donation.  Then I thought, wow, if there were a whole network of people planting communal gardens in low and middle income areas and we could get a whole lot of restaurants to take part — this would be such a huge help to putting food on the table and easing the burden not only of the poor but of the struggling middle class.  Prices of everything and taxes just keep going up and salaries are just nowhere near keeping pace.  Even a few shekels a week saved can make a huge difference in the quality of life.  So next week, I’m going to go have a little chat with the restaurant up the street…

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11 responses to “Social justice gardening”

  1. TDDPirate says :

    Good idea.

    However it is likely to have a lot of unforeseen obstacles before making any dent in world’s problems. So a pilot project is the right way to go – have a talk with 2-3 restaurants, and you try to use their leftovers and see what is involved in scaling up the operation.

    It probably could help people who are fully or partially unemployed – they have time on their hands. People who have fulltime work – are short on time anyway. What they really need is a way to make each hour of their time count for more NIS and/or save time being wasted. Vegetable garden would help them only if it is their after-work hobby.

    Also, look for a way to turn into some cash the fact that your operation would reduce a bit the trash that needs to be gotten rid of.

  2. Lynne says :

    There are many problems in growing one’s own food, space and proper soil to begin with. Time. Sigh. Perhaps a community garden in your area? I wonder if your neighbors would be interested if you had a bit of land?

    • israeliminx says :

      Ema one set of the upstairs neighbours are already a bit more interested. I put up a little sign in our entryway saying “fresh and organic from our very own garden, take what you need. Enjoy” and a little note below it saying “these are just the very first and a lot more to come…” and a little basket of 6 (!!) cucumbers and a cup with some of the fresh green onion in it. Around 9 tonight I had a knock on my door and it was the upstairs neighbours thanking me, telling me how much they enjoyed 3 of the cucumbers and some of the onion as part of their dinner salad…and wanting to know what ELSE I might be growing. I went down to check afterwards and all of the veggies had been claimed by neighbours.

  3. Lynne says :

    Wonderful! Remember the story of the Little Red Hen? It was one of your favorites when you were little. Let’s hope that you have more helpers than she did 🙂

    • israeliminx says :

      Indeed I do. My hope is that once people realize the benefit they will be more on-board. I’m actually perfectly willing to do the planting, watering, transplanting etc. because I enjoy it to no end and, if you remove the time I spend admiring the seedling/plant/flower/fruit costs me only 10 minutes time in the morning and 15 in the evening. BUT if at the end of the fall growing season when I put up the notice to the neighbours letting them know that if they want to share in a spring crop they should donate 5 sheks to cover the seed costs and they don’t they will get nada in the spring. Neighbours that pony up that small amount (each pack of seeds costs 5 sheks) will get spring veggies at their door and far more return than their 5 shek investment and neighbours that don’t won’t get a thing.

  4. Hannah says :

    Do your neighbours have access to the roof? Whoever lives on the top floor might allow you access to the roof which means growing in pots and containers. Just an idea as I know space is your biggest issue.

  5. Lynne says :

    Hannah, I’m becoming more interested in container gardening. For one thing, you can control the type of soil and the moisture so much more easily. There is less an issue with insects, and there is always adequate drainage. I am hoping to plant herbs in pots here in Austin (a gardener’s nightmare). I may try patio tomatoes and green onions, too.

  6. israeliminx says :

    Hannah that is such a good idea. I’ll have to check if I can get access!

    Mac — are those not the coolest things?! Whoever thought of growing tomatoes upside down. Having a place to safely hang a 50 plus pound bag though would be a real challenge — look out below if the hardware holding that sucker breaks!

  7. Lynne says :

    Yaeli, check email.

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