Increase local security: Grow food
Jen Dodd
March 2003

In these times, our media is inundating us with war speak and holding people in fear, as our politicians tell us to be mindful of our 'national security' and support a continued war with Iraq. I recently encountered this inundation from the media while working at the Gainesville Organic Blueberry Farm in SE Gainesville, when local news reporters came for an interview, to ask farmer Larry Kendrick how he feels about the threat of bioterrorism on local farms. Larry's reply was "I'm more concerned about corporate chemical farming poisoning our water and destroying our soil."

In 1994, the USDA reported that 12,000 pounds of soil were being lost per acre per year on U.S. land farmed with large-scale techniques. Nature takes 500 years to build up one inch of topsoil; our soil is being depleted each year 18 times faster than it is being built up in nature. Soil loss is truly a threat to our national security!

In Gainesville, so many folks are working hard to build a more sustainable community by growing food, or at least supporting those who do. Community gardener, Bob Ellenberg, says we can reduce hunger and grow our own:

"Naturally there has been this question in me for many years: how come there are starving children in our world? I have seen the bountifulness of the earth; I'm no magician, I'm no one special, others do it too, so how come it isn't happening all over the planet? When considering how much is coming out of the earth on my small 20 x 20 sq. ft. community garden plot that I share with other gardeners and their plots, I know we can all be responsible for providing for the hungry. I am also deeply aware that in third world countries many farmers, not unlike myself, have been taken away from their garden plots to work for multinationals, or regional landlords, growing large cash crops of sugar, tobacco, cotton, and the farmer can no longer grow their own life sustaining foods. And I also know that growing the large cash crops, or growing cows, using one chemical after another, all deplete the soil, leaving the earth, the marginal farmer, and our consciences in dire conditions."

Neighbors can come together to turn over soil on vacant lots, to plant seeds and grow colorful gardens abundant with vegetables, flowers, and herbs. We can meet our farmers in person at the local farmer's markets. We can build networks and alternative systems that help us meet our own needs, and reduce hunger from the ground up by providing spaces for people to grow their own food.

Let's work to create solutions at home and not allow our systems to create war, suffering and hunger. Here are some ways to get involved to increase local community security. Your help is needed:

  1. Contact Neighborhood Nutrition Network ( One program is Community Gardens, a program that supports folks to utilize vacant urban spaces to grow food. Contact Jen Dodd to adopt space in an existing garden or get advice/resources to start a new one near your home. (See calender for 3/15 gardening workshop). (, 377-6345).
  2. Get involved with the new local Permaculture Group. Projects include raising an edible plant nursery, workshops on thatch and cobb natural building construction, a low-cost Permaculture Design Course April 4-6, and much more (,
  3. Plant seeds, cook meals, or serve food with Food Not Bombs (garden at NW 2nd St. and 4th Pl.) (, 846-9438 Meghan)
  4. Shop at the local Farmers Markets. Wed downtown by Hippodrome 4-7p; Sat 830-1130a @ N.441 and 34th St., and more (NNN, 377-6345)
  5. Become a member of a local CSA farm, and receive a share of local produce each week (NNN, 377-6345).

Jen Dodd is Community Garden Coordinator for the Neighborhood Nutrition Network.

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