Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Digging Deeper

Gardening at In the Night Farm is more than a hobby. We believe in the nutritional, economical, environmental, and political importance of locally grown produce, and there's nothing more local than our own backyard.

Commercial agriculture, which runs on genetically modified corn and fossil fuels, wreaks havoc on the land and the bodies of humans and animals who consume the resulting "food." We're constantly seeking new ways to reduce our dependence on the system.

The switch to local foods is a slow process, not least because we suffer from the typical American addiction to seasonless variety. However, as we grow more accustomed to eating seasonally, we are able to create more meals around our own produce.

Another limiting factor is expense. America's agricultural infastructure is designed to benefit the monoliths who pump out massive quantities of cheap, poor quality food. Local farmers, particularly organic farmers, are forced to charge more for their crops -- sometimes more than consumers are willing to pay.

At this point, Travis and I only dabble in actually selling our produce. We hope to move enough eggs and vegetables this year to cover our own costs associated with raising chickens and crops. If we're really lucky, we'll net some extra dollars to put toward a greenhouse.

Our primary goal isn't to turn a profit, but rather to turn our soil into healthful meals. This is easy during summer, when the crops come on one after another, so quickly we can't eat them all. But what about winter?

This year, we're investing in several items to extend the usefulness of our harvest. First, we bought a Foodsaver to preserve the quality of frozen berries, vegetables, and meats. Second, we expanded our collection of canning jars. (Note: Used jars are readily available on Craigslist -- it seems few people use them anymore.) Third and most ambitious, we're putting in a root cellar. Here's how Travis spent part of the weekend:

Luckily for him, he was able to barter some computer work for backhoe services to dig most of the hole. In the photo above, he's trimming the sides and bottom in preparation for building the underground structure.

At the moment, the root cellar quite an ugly scar on the hill, but once its walls are built and its roof on, we'll shovel dirt over the top and let time adorn it with grasses once again.

Come winter, our bounty of potatoes, onions, garlic, shallots, squash, dried hot peppers, and more will be nestled safely under the farm, awaiting a much shorter trip to our plates than the thousands of miles endured by most grocery store produce.

It seems that, sometimes, the journey of a thousand miles ends with a single step.

1 comment:

Mrs. Trixi said...

I was googleing root cellars and your site came up. I would love to know more about how you are building yours, as we too would love to one day put one in. Thank you.