Growing up I would hear stories of how my grandfather owed money for the boat ride to America. As an immigrant to this country from Macedonia he knew very little English but he was a clever man. He worked hard saved up and started one of his first businesses as a restaurant owner cooking food for people during the 2nd and 3rd shifts near a manufacturing plant. Earlier in Macedonia during World War 2 he was a cook for the army so he knew exactly how to cook for hundreds of hungry men. He would add local food from farmers he came in contact, local meats, local cheeses and prepare some of the most delicious meals using simple village recipes he learned as a boy.
In my childhood I would spend time in the backyard of my grandfather where he had a large garden. He'd spend months hauling local manure and wood chips to make a pile of compost that he would then spread all over an area. This rich soil bore some of the best tasting peppers, the richest flavoraful tomatoes, and the most biggest watermelons that I can remember. His yard was littered with fruit trees as well - Fig, Pomegrante, Papaya and more. When I grew older and was looking into buying a home I made sure to get his advice for my garden.
In college my passion for science lead me to pursue a biology degree. In my Junior year while researching the oceans and systems I began to come across a constant theme. This theme is our impact on the planet via the agriculture of land. "Agri"- means Field in Greek- so Agriculture is Field culture. Whereas what my grandfather was doing "Horti"- meaning plant was Plant culture. When we take large areas of land and turn them into Agriculture we end up destroying the natural habitat to grow a field of monoculture plants. While in Plant culture we take any available land even small land and turn it into rich polyculture (many types of plants). The difference between the two has lead us to the civilization we live within today. For millions of years we were hunter gathers- then Horticulturist- and in our nearest history Agriculturists. In this time of 10,000 years of practicing agriculture we have turned large areas from forests into deserts or barren lands. The peninsula of Greece where Macedonia is just north of was once a rich forest until the Greek people began clear cutting and making into Agriculture to form the first cities.
In order for modern day agriculture to survive farmers use synthetic fertilizers, pesticides, and mined minerals in order to spray onto large fields to grow the crops. You can see examples of this mining for minerals when it comes to phosphate mining company (picture attached- you can see the pools from outer space- they cover an area 4 times larger then Tampa) who mines large acres of mines just southwest of Tampa. If you look on Google maps you can see pools from outer space- they are pools that mined minerals are mixed with acid to sit in for months or years at a time to develop super phosphate for our modern agriculture system.
The problem with this system is waste- we spray lots of these minerals/nutrients but because we are not doing it the natural way a lot of it run's off. In my research of the oceans several outlets of rivers or places close near agriculture develop dead zones in the ocean where no life can survive because of the toxicity of the area. The nutrients run off and cause a bloom of algae to grow that makes all the oxygen in the area get used up causing fish and other animals to die off. In the Great Coral reef of Australia nutrients from farms are causing populations blooms of Crown of Thorns Starfish to outbreak in population which eat corals and are destroying several hundred acres of corals.
If we were to focus more of time and energy to taking care of our own food needs rather then allowing corporations to we can move our community away from this destructive system. Agriculture is wasteful and in the future it won't last. Spending the last 4 years trying to understand the system we live within I've come to my own personal conclusion that the food supply we all rely upon is very unstable and has risks in it. We focus so much on large systems that costs lots of resources to keep up while relying on non-renewable resources to maintain them. In the future when these non-renewable resources are used up we won't have the capability to maintain such systems.
What other systems are there? I quit college - and I found the system of Permaculture. Permaculture is all about ecology, biology, and systems thinking to design a habitat that takes care of you, rather then you take care of it. Permaculture is all what this website Code Green Community is all about. It's about networking and sharing ideas of how to transform our food system here locally. Tampa bay is so important to that because we have so much potential. Imagine if our homes and suburbs provided us with all our drinking water, our fresh fruits and vegetables, fresh eggs and meat, cottage made goods and more. We found once again what made us a great nation- Our hard work and enterprising spirit. We uplifted our community out of economic recession by growing productively around our homes and wherever we can. I don't just dream about such a reality I actively try to make it occur. In the past i've organized gardening blitz called Permablitz to help set-up gardens at community centers. I also recently started up with help form fellow gardeners a local food Cooperative called Suncoast Co-op. ( www.suncoastco-op.com ) where we acquire local food to be sold on an online market and delivered locally.
I'm 27 but wise beyond my years. I'm very lucid to the reality that I find myself in. We built a system that exploits and extracts in order to gain a windfall of resources or wealth- but these systems are built in a way that won't last. A way that will leave 7 billion human beings on this planet (over half of which are under 30 years old) with a way of life that no longer works because there are no more mines to mine or oil to pump. A system that uses up all its resources in one or two generations is not a smart system. We need a revolution- a design revolution. My generation will bring that about I feel. It's a time for us all to get real passionate about our food. Because with food we get to vote 3 times a day what kind of system we want to leave behind for future generations. A system that extracts and exploits- or a system that heals and actually grows more diversity to the planet. We need to re-look at nature and learn how life has for billions of years lived on this planet successfully. Learn from the forests how to grow food in a sustainable way. Forests need no nutrients, no watering, and no tilling. We could create a garden of eden if we wanted to using Permaculture design.
I would like to attend the UF Small Farm and Alternative Enterprise conference this coming up in July. In order to attend I need to raise money- I currently can't afford to go as well as take time off work- but with the support the community I may be able to attend. Please check out my gofundme site to learn how you can help me go to this event. I'll youtube the event and make sure to Blog on Patch and my own network website www.codegreencommunity.com the youtubes of the conference. http://www.gofundme.com/s6h5w