How to grow a revolution

Photo: Courtesy Kitchen Gardeners International (http://kgi.org)

Photo: Courtesy Kitchen Gardeners International (http://kgi.org)

Roger Doiron is a modern-day superhero, self-described as “capable of leaping over (most) raised beds in a single bound.”

The Scarborough, Maine, resident is perhaps most famous for launching a campaign in 2008 to replant a kitchen garden at the White House, which we now all know became a reality when the Obamas took office.

Doiron is the founder of Kitchen Gardens International, a non-profit dedicated to encouraging people to grow their own food. KGI has developed into a community of 24,000 people from 100 countries who work, “to empower individuals, families, and communities to achieve greater levels of food self-reliance through the promotion of kitchen gardening, home-cooking, and sustainable local food systems.” 

After Michael Pollan posted a link to Doiron’s 2011 Ted Talk, the profile of the soft-spoken father of three grew even further. In the talk, Doiron made a case for a kitchen garden revolution, noting United Nations estimates that show food production would need to increase by 70 per cent to feed the projected global population of 9 billion in 2050.

While the challenge facing poor countries is too little food production, one of the challenges in wealthy ones is too much of the wrong type. Sixty-eight percent of the American adult population is now overweight and 28 percent of it is obese. The situation with children is even more alarming. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, one in three children will develop Type II Diabetes in their lifetime and one in two if the child is black or Hispanic.

Concerns about food safety are also on the rise with foods as seemingly benign as spinach, bean sprouts and peanut butter affected by harmful E. coli outbreaks in recent years. You can’t bank on the nutrition of grocery store fare, either. The commercially grown foods we’re eating today are significantly less nutritious than they were just 30 years ago. Breeding crops for higher yields has delivered cheaper food, but it has also diluted nutrients.

Doiron has a simple solution: for millions of people, around the world, to plant healthy kitchen gardens. He calls on existing gardeners to extend their summer plots into productive, four-season gardens, using his own suburban yard as an example. And he suggests connecting with gardeners in your area to help other people and groups (schools, clubs, companies, retirement communities, food pantries, etc.) start gardens.

Welcome to the revolution.

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