Pesticides. Fungicides. Neonicotinoids. Organic. Hormone-free. Anti-biotic free. Non-GMO. Fair trade. Pasture raised. Grass fed vs. grass finished. How far did it travel? How well was it treated? How much was its DNA tinkered with? Were fossil fuels involved?
The concept of food was simple once, but these days the very necessary act of eating has become fraught with peril and confusion. It was once considered your patriotic duty to grow your own food, or at least supplement the basics in your own "Victory Garden." Now, the Department of Agriculture is more like a marketing/lobbying firm for Big Ag than an advocate for the average eating citizen, so the mantra is "buy, buy, buy."
But buying is complicated and, frankly, why spend money on something when you can grow it yourself? Gardening can be the perfect antidote to modern life and all its fast paced, stress inducing, social network imposed concerns. Leave your smartphone inside and take a break by doing a little manual labor.
Michael Madfis is the mind behind Fort Lauderdale Vegetables. He thinks that farms should be organic, small, and hyper efficient so that they can grown right in the middle of urban areas, like his Andrew Farm and his new rooftop farm on top of 110 Tower, both in downtown Fort Lauderdale.
No one knows better than he does the challenges and rewards of growing fruits and veggies on a small (yet ridiculously productive) scale. He has some tips for the urban farmer.
We're in Zone 10, so summer isn't really growing season for us, but late summer and fall are, so it's time to prepare. To keep things simple and moving, Madfis plans his farm in three months cycles and you can do the same in your own garden.
"We're in August so it's a funny time to start but it's a good time to get the seedlings and get the soil ready so we are ready to plant around September 15. That's my next planting date," says Madfis.
He recommends starting your seedlings indoors now and preparing the outdoor soil while they sprout up. As to the soil, he recommends organic compost.