This is what I've been doing this summer: gardening, testing recipes and writing a cookbook called The All-New Square Foot Garden Cookbook. It's a follow-up to the Square Foot Garden book developed by Mel Bartholomew, who brings an engineer's sensibility to the art of gardening. The manuscript goes to the publisher tomorrow.
In the course of 30 years of SFG, Mel has concluded that it's the best way to conduct sustainable growing and eating. He's not a purist--we had a wonderful steak dinner at Mere Bulles and a catered lunch from Bread & Company. But it's the way he chooses to live most of the time, based on a long list of intertwined factors. Here's a quote from the introduction, based on one of our interviews.
At the center is the goal of efficiency, growing the most food of the best quality in the smallest space with no superfluous effort. Square Foot Gardening is a more efficient use of land, energy and water than traditional row gardening. The 48-inch-square boxes and three-foot paths are based on the human reach. The closely spaced squares minimize the opportunity for weeds and therefore, the need for weeding. Then there's the health benefit. A garden produces fresh fruits and vegetables that form the center of a healthful way of eating. A garden brings people out of doors and into the sunshine and fresh air, for some simple, healthful movement that almost anyone with basic mobility can perform.
Continue reading Mel Bartholomew on sustainable growing
And there's the environmental effect of a Square Foot Garden. You see how a garden free from toxic chemicals buzzes with beneficial insects and attracts delightful creatures. Homegrown vegetables mean fewer industrial farms, which mean less fertilizer runoff. And your prepared "Mel's Mix" soil means there's no need to fertilize, so you save that money and effort, and eliminate stream pollution. A Square Foot Garden will save you trips to the market or the farm stand. The smaller space means less watering and less water waste.
The efficiencies continue when you get to the kitchen. To me, the most efficient way to eat vegetables is fresh and uncooked. There's no heat involved, so it conserves energy. Uncooked vegetables retain all their nutrients. And your energy is conserved, too, when dinner involves merely selecting your food, cleaning it and eating it.
As an engineer who's made three fortunes, Mel could eat and drink like a pasha every night if he wanted. Instead, he chooses a raw food diet because it's the sustainable and efficient way to eat and live. Discuss.