Just One Backyard: One Scientist's Search for Food Sustainability

Urban agriculture: “Anybody can do this,” Dr. Zahina-Ramos says. “We have enough private green space to locally source the produce that would meet the daily dietary needs of every person in Palm Beach County.”

He spends between two and three hours a week “tending” the garden. “But 75 percent of that time is because I choose to hand-water it. With a sprinkler system, it would probably be less than 30 minutes of actual work.” For every hour he spends in the garden, he yields $12 worth of organic produce. “If folks are less stringent with the organic principles, the number rises to about $20.”

When calculating the ecological impact — using factors such as what goes into delivering the commercial produce that he’s not consuming — he says, “It’s roughly the equivalent of if I stopped driving my car.”

From his book: In the chapter titled “Water, Water Everywhere And …”, he writes of how much less water it took to feed his garden than it would have if he’d tried to maintain a standard lawn: “If I had installed a lawn instead of a food garden and watered it according to (Florida’s) recommended turf grass irrigation guidelines, I would have applied approximately 40,000 more gallons of water per year than what I used to grow my food.”

As for the cumulative financial impact of growing one’s own produce, here’s what he found: “… If only 5 percent of (West Palm Beach) residents produced the same amount of food I did during this study, the economic impact to these households would total between $130 million and $195 million dollars each year.”

He also cites studies that show when children are introduced to, and participate in, sustainable food gardening, they tend to make more healthful food choices for the rest of their lives.

Dr. Z: "I am attempting to grow all of the vegetables I need for an entire year from my own backyard! I own a typical single family home lot of approximately 1/4 acre and grow vegetables only in the backyard- the front yard remains as it is, in order to blend in with the neighborhood."


Local scientist cultivates booming urban garden and dream of sustainability http://buff.ly/1K3hPrh
‘Urban gardening’ is Palm Beach professor John Zahina-Ramos’ passion http://buff.ly/1K3i4CC

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