How gardens can make for strong towns

Strong Towns founder Chuck Marohn writes about how local food production can strengthen a community.

We have no slack in this food system, yet almost all of us depend on it to survive. Local food is the easiest and most immediately profitable way for a community to build its resiliency. Nearly every community in North America could produce the bulk of its own food and have the security that comes with it.

Instead of paying transportation costs for a global supply chain, that money shifts to paying local labor. Instead of shipping your money out of the community, it passes around within, growing your wealth.

And let’s just be clear: local food generally tastes better. It’s fresher, requires fewer preservatives and chemicals, and is full of flavor. Once you’ve had farm fresh eggs, it’s really hard to buy them from the big box grocery store (where, in my experience, the cost is the same).

With local food, a community can grow more resilient, build its own wealth, provide opportunity for local entrepreneurs, and enjoy a higher quality of life in the process. It’s very Strong Towns.

Getting started is not hard. If you don’t want to grow or raise anything yourself, join a CSA and give your support to someone who does. Commit to going to the local farmer’s market and plan your meals around what you find there. You won’t be overpaying to “buy local” either; this is just a matter of switching your habits.

If you do think growing food or raising animals might be for you, start small and give it a try. A small garden in the backyard or switching out some of your non-edible plants for food is really easy. I have blueberries and raspberries between the roses and azaleas. It looks good and the fruit is great.

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