7/24/2013 12:21:01 PM

Living in a Green House: An Update on My Progress

Guest post by PBI staff member Kathryn Foat

On May 6th I devised a plan for my husband and I to live more sustainably in our suburban home. It included learning where our food comes from, changing our diet to one that includes less meat and more vegetables and grain, and sourcing our fruits and vegetables locally, including growing more of our own.

I thought I would report on a few of our accomplishments, the barriers that we've overcome, and the challenges still remaining.

The unpredictability of the weather is part of gardening or farming. You do the best you can with the hand that nature deals you. It has been wet in the Mid Atlantic this summer, very wet. As a result, everything is growing very large—so much for the garden path!

The garden plots we planted in the spring are now lush and full and providing us with a bounty of crops: green beans, swiss chard, onions, and arugula. The squash and potatoes are setting on well. In the evening before cooking dinner, we harvest a selection of vegetables for that night's meal. And the garden is so bountiful we've been able to share with neighbors—who well may have tomatoes to share with us later.

One of my favorite accomplishments is that we're using sustainable gardening methods, working in organic matter from our compost box. So far, this has given us two surprises: volunteer tomato and butternut squash plants that are growing where I started my blackberry patch!

We joined a CSA (Community Supported Agriculture group) with a farm that is very close to us. More important, it's located on my husband's way home from work, making pick-up very easy and saving time and fuel. One barrier to overcome with a CSA is embracing new vegetables that may not be part of your regular diet. I've heard from friends and colleagues that their CSA provides recipes. Ours does not, so the first thing we do after picking up our box is an Internet search to find ways to prepare items like garlic scrapes! A month into this process, trying new foods and recipes is now part of the fun. We are working on freezing the excess to use this winter when local vegetables will be very limited.

The biggest challenge is sourcing local staples like milk and grains, but we keep looking. As the very hot weather looms ahead of us, it will be a good time to visit a few grocery stores and stand in the cool to read the food labels and think of ways we can further reduce the energy costs of our food choices.

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