Orlando’s Rob Greenfield has become the epitome of self-sufficiency. He has done something truly great which would motivate people to plant trees. He has grown more than 100 different foods in his gardens and foraged over 200 foods from nature including his medicine and vitamins. Let’s take a moment to appreciate him.
He grew and foraged 100% of organic food throughout the year. No grocery stores, no restaurants, not even a drink at a bar. Nature has been his garden, his pantry and his pharmacy.
You might imagine me in the countryside living off the land or on a farm. I lived in the urban environment of Orlando, Florida, in a 100 square foot tiny house that I built with repurposed materials. With no land of my own, I grew food in the front yards of people in my neighborhood and shared the bounty with them. I grew more than 100 different foods in my gardens and foraged over 200 foods from nature including my medicine and vitamins. I also worked in my community to empower others to grow their own food too and take back their health. I built gardens for 15 other people through my Gardens for the People program, planted over 200 Community Fruit Trees, sent out over 5,000 free seed packs to help people grow their own organic, healthy food and I taught free gardening classes to the people in my community. I also created a Guide to Gardening for Beginners in Orlando, Florida and for those not in my region created this Gardening Guide for Beginners.
I’ve been exploring food for nearly a decade and I believe the globalized, industrialized food system is broken. This was a personal quest to see whether I could step away from Big Ag and grow and forage every bite of my own food. It’s one year later, I did it and I feel healthier and happier today than when I started.
But I’ll be honest… I do have an agenda. I want you to question your food. Where does it come from? How does it get to you? How did it impact the earth, other species and the people that grew it? And if you don’t like the answers you find, I want to empower you to change them. The good news is that you don’t need to go for 100%. You can start where you are. You can grow a little bit of your own food, an herb garden in your windowsill, some tomatoes on your balcony, or a raised bed in your front yard. If you have no space at all you can join a community garden.
You can source your food locally and purchase from local farmers and gardeners. The farmers market is a great place to start.
You can buy whole foods and cook more, rather than packaged processed foods that leave trash behind.
You can make healthy foods for people in need, grow a garden for your elderly neighbor, or start a grassroots organization to harvest the fruit trees in your community to distribute to others.
This needn’t be a lonely journey. For most of us food is at the center of our lives and we can do this together in our communities.
The solutions are here and they are delicious and nutritious and part of a happier, healthier and more sustainable life!