Today, walking home in the freezing cold February weather, all I could think about was zucchinis. In my 5 minute walk home from work I had passed at least 15 houses with 15 accompanying backyards with 15 snowy lawns. And that’s when it came to me – those lawns could produce a lot of zucchinis. Vegetables of all kinds have been on my mind lately and not because I’m hungry or a newly converted vegetarian. As a third year Environment and Resources Studies student at the University of Waterloo I am thinking about a potential thesis topic – urban gardens.
If you haven’t already noticed, there are a lot of yards in Waterloo. And while I understand many people enjoy their lawns as a uniform blanket of green grass I have a more creative vision – a mosaic of vegetable gardens forming a patchwork across the city. Imagine if each household on a street dedicated a portion of their yard to a garden. Perhaps each household grew a different crop and shared the produce with neighbours– several households could probably feed themselves on fresh produce for an entire season!
While I would argue this is a great idea simply for the delightful taste of fresh vegetables, there are also environmental benefits to such a set-up. Today many people don’t know where their food comes from. Well, yes, they know it comes from the grocery store but that’s not really where it comes from. Most of the food available to us in the average grocery store has been shipped for miles across continents and time zones, and has been pumped so full of pesticides and fertilizers that by the time that zucchini is sitting on your salad it tastes like cardboard. To ship food across such large distances requires a lot of oil and generates a lot of carbon emissions. Growing food in your backyard only requires a few carbon-neutral steps out the door to pick your produce. So with spring just around the corner I encourage you to join me in thinking about zucchinis or whatever vegetable your prefer and maybe set aside a plot of land in your own garden to enjoy fresh, delicious, environmentally-friendly food this upcoming season!