"Gardens are viewed as 'hobbies' by most politicians/bureaucrats and administrators and are seldom taken seriously as real sources of real food," says a University of Connecticut agricultural extension specialist, speaking of the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA).
The USDA is the world's largest agricultural research and extension organization. If it doesn't take gardens seriously as "real sources of real food," we are in real trouble. Feeding a growing population with shrinking resources without polluting the planet is one of the greatest challenges facing us, locally and globally.
There is a wonderful abundance of vegetables and fruits produced in home and community organic gardens. A skilled home-gardener can produce amazing quantities of food, using only hand tools, compost from kitchen and yard wastes, and human energy.
Study after study has shown that per unit of land and energy, small, hand-tended growing areas can be many times more productive than large farms are.
Home garden produce in many regions dwarfs that area's commercial organic agriculture. The home-grown produce is even more valuable, though, to the gardeners. Home-grown vegetables also have added value for the rest of us. They don't need all the packaging that produce from Mexico and California requires. They also don't need roads, trucks or transcontinental highways; home-grown food doesn't leave a trail of pollution across the country and around the world.
A home garden directly connects children and adults to a productive and sustainable relationship with the Earth.
By ignoring these "real sources of real food," the USDA misses an opportunity to promote agriculture that not only is the most environmentally friendly, but that also produces the freshest, and tastiest food possible.