Saturday, April 11, 2015


The news is all about the drought and water use in California.
It is a horrific event but it does make me wonder. We are hearing all the things California is doing to save water and while we listen and watch we are doing very little to help ourselves with what is a rapid rise in grocery costs and a shortage in some areas.

Lake Oroville in California in 2011

Lake Oroville in January of 2015

When Ralph and I go to Roanoke I always marvel at how much land is simply wasted. Even here in our small town we see empty lots and large well groomed lawns that are unproductive to anyone.

A nice lawn, but I can see enough space for a nice garden to the right of the home. 

A 200 square foot garden..20' by 20' will produce enough seasonal produce for a single person so do the math, 1200 square feet will feed a family of four on a seasonal basis. The imprint of a Ranch style 2700 square foot home 45 feet wide by 60 feet long is more than twice the size of a garden patch that will grow you and your family fresh and LOCAL food.

This wide open area is right in town, lawn for  a home right in front of me and an empty lot across the street.

When I went to England years ago one of the first things I noticed was all the garden plots Every where I looked fallow land was being put to good use. Churches had gardens behind them, railways had gardens beside them, people seemed to be working together in small community gardens and everywhere there were small garden stands....some manned and some on the honor system.

My Aunt Aileen had married a man in New Zealand, when they visited us one of the first things he asked my father was....why is there so much wasted land beside the roads? He would look at a median and could graze sheep there or why is no one gardening that? It drove my father crazy!

An Alberta Highway...with the huge open median that drove my New Zealand Uncle crazy. He just couldn't get over the grass that was just wasted!

This allotment garden in England was more to Uncle Jack's taste....good use of space that was not in housing or industry.

A random screenshot of an area in Roanoke, Virginia. This was a view in Google maps and it shows a lot of green that is NOT garden but sure could be.
 This screenshot is another example, homes all tidy and neat....not one with a garden but note the empty lot that has been bush hogged to keep the grass and undergrowth down. A perfect spot for a community garden.

I often wonder what I am missing as to why I see the potential opportunity of growing food here in this area and not hauling it all from far away? Yet it is not being done nearly as much as it could be. Is it a lack of education? Is it a lack of understanding? Heaven forbid could it be a lack of initiative and leadership?  Roanoke is the biggest city near us and they have areas where you can have backyard chickens. Here in New Castle you can have backyard chickens or rabbits.  Some cities and towns do zone against small livestock. However I do not believe there is anywhere where zoning interferes with having a garden.

Even the simplest small garden balcony can do its part. Fresh lettuce and herbs that have not traveled across the country at your sliding glass balcony door!

We are seeing a few more gardens in this area all the time, most are in the country though. If things get really bad it is the people in towns and cities that will be hit the hardest first. They have a chance to be pro active and grow some things of their own and learn how to garden and make the best use of space.
A newly plowed garden plot, better use of the  land than lawn!

Maybe there should be zoning for Gardens, give developers a credit to include areas where apartment and condominium developments encourage gardens? Maybe farmland should be used as farmland, zoning that requires land area of more than 5 acres to put some of the arable land to work growing food for local need? There is an incredible amount of farmland in this country. We need people to take the initiative to be a part of the solution and get the land back to what it should be doing, too much good land is just growing lawn!
As to the California drought...there are a lot of temperate states that get good rainfall and have long growing seasons to produce food. Ralph and I wonder if part of the problem is the cheaper labor in California? Harvesting produce is hard work and is not the highest paying kind of job. Now I have a hunch I am getting into murky water! 

With that said I am going out to check our garden...all 1500 square feet of it. I am still using tomatoes, beans, peppers and sweet potatoes from our harvest last year. We look forward to fresh greens from this  years attempt. We are not worried about where much of our food comes from and we know that what we grow is healthy, organic and very tasty.  Maybe more people will try a garden this year and find the delight in what it will produce and joy of actually growing your own food. Think about the soil under that lawn and the rain that keeps it green, maybe it would grow vegetables for you this year and save water for California!

 A California housing development.

 Watering a park in California...April 5th 2015?

 The disturbing contrast of a Golf Course and California desert.

Almond trees dying from the lack of water. An Almond tree needs over 100 gallons of water per day to grow a good harvest. 62% of US Almonds are exported.

Just somethings to think about.
God Bless you all.


  1. California is an example of where environmentalists have wrecked the state. They tore down dams so most of their water runs to the ocean. It is welfare state and is more interested in political correctness than common sense. California was mostly desert before they started irrigating it. They had no regard for water use all these years. People who live on the east coast really have no idea what is going on here. Politics is king.

  2. I agree with Tewshooz. I have lived here most of my life. Such a waste. Can't wait to leave. The problem is the jobs and money are here. It can't last.

  3. Very well said. It's tough because our conserving water in one part of the US (or world) has no impact on California's situation. It's not like we can redirect our surplus or ship it to them. The result is feeling helpless. I am not impressed with the way California politics handles anything. I am not impressed with the condition of that state on any level. Reading Tewshooz comment doesn't surprise me, and the worst part is these same politics are trying to swallow up the rest of the nation.

    1. Every time Californian's find a state they like better than California they move [eg. Texas, Colorado]...then they vote in the kind of policies that made California have its problems...not good for anyone. I know water conservation in the east does not help California's drought but we could do more for ourselves so we do not need so much produce from California.
      Have you watched 'National Geographic: Collapse' on Youtube? Self Sufficient Mountain Living posted a link to it and it is a real eyeopener...worth a look.