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Backyard Harvesting
Valerie Dufort-Roy | Klish Way

It has been the strangest spring of my life, hence, I thought to embrace April with a positively sustainable practice… gardening! I must confide that the green thumb didn’t make it into my genetic profile. I am guilty of a humongous graveyard of cacti, violets and orchids caused by my chronic inability to remember when and if I watered my plants. Thankfully, my husband and daughter are gardening enthusiasts, and my moral support seems to work well enough for us to enjoy a myriad of herbs and produce.

To understand the carbon footprint of store-bought produce versus backyard-grown produce, we can contrast against the journey produce takes from planted seeds in the garden to your dinner plate.

Gardening uses one’s own body energy to prepare the dirt, plant the seeds, water, remove weeds and harvest the produce. Harvesting is simply pluck, rinse, and eat; no machinery involved. Even the seeds can be re-used from season to season. Agribusinesses use fossil-fueled machines to accomplish the same tasks, along with chemicals to control weeds and bugs. At home, bugs can be controlled with coffee grounds, spraying a mixture of water and dish soap or diluted neem oil. Companion planting, which involves pairing vegetables and flowers to support or inhibit the growth of other plants or deter pests, is an effective way to avoid adding chemicals to a garden.

Once the produce is harvested, agribusinesses wash and package it, often in plastic films. Most plastic films end up in the landfill, where it takes 200 to 1,000 years to decompose. This packaged produce is transported by fossil fueled boat, train or truck, to a lit and climate-controlled grocery store, where customers carry it home in their fossil-fueled vehicles. Furthermore, the energy footprint worsens when purchasing unseasonal items grown in heated greenhouses.

Consequently, the best eco-friendly bet for customers is to stick with locally grown produce, in season. One can sign up at delmarfarmersmarket.org or follow them on @delmar_farmersmarket for the latest news and delivery options. One can subscribe to a Community-Supported Agriculture box such as Be Wise Ranch, Yasukochi or Sage Mountain Farm. Of course, we can all explore how much of the food on our table can be supplemented by the harvest from our Del Mar backyards!



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