You don’t need me to tell you the entire world has been on a roller coaster ride these past few years. Briefly considered comparing it to going to hell in a handbasket, but given my naturally optimistic nature, going to stick with the roller coaster.
Optimism notwithstanding, over that time, we’ve collectively seen and experienced hardships no one could have imagined. Many of these hardships have revolved around the food we purchase every day. Now I’m not saying the store being out of cilantro is even remotely close to the end of the world, but until it started happening and fairly consistently, the thought of eating chicken tacos without fresh cilantro was something I couldn’t have imagined living in NWA. I know, I know—first world problems of the highest degree.
In addition to gaps on grocery shelves, we’re also all dealing with inflation. Going back to that fresh cilantro for a minute, a recent US food study estimates that produce has risen 8-10% across the board since 2021. Like many mass produced things, produce tends to be grown by large, efficient growers then shipped to markets like our own.
Here in NWA, local food production has not kept up with our growing population. This means most of our food is shipped from other regions. With freight costs continuing to rise, it doesn’t look like we’re going to get much if any inflation relief going forward.
So what’s this optimist have to say about all this? Is there a way to have reliable fresh produce at a reliable price? Well, what about growing our own produce? Granted, itmay not be the easiest solution, but it is one that could offer permanent relief to both produce shortages and higher prices. Not to mention there are bushels and bushels of folks who already grow everything from apples to zucchini in their back yards.
Several of you tell me about the composting you do in your back yard. It only seems to follow the natural extension would be to add a garden, or some raised beds if that better suits the space. Either way, what a cool hobby! As someone who grew up on a farm and has worked alocal, community garden for the better part of the past 15years—I can personally attest to the fact produce grows well in NWA. Many factors contribute to this, but chief among them is the long growing season we’re blessed to have that stretches from spring, through summer, right into fall.
Are you getting the idea I’m going somewhere with this compost/gardening theme? If so, allow me to introduce you to Samuel Means. Samuel is a local grower and the owner of Means Greens, a business dedicated to the art of growing produce and helping others to do the same. Among his many claims to growing fame, Samuel has been using Food Loops compost to maximize the yield and quality of his produce.
Samuel is available year-round to work with you to get your own backyard compost project off the ground or map out a plan for some raised garden beds, complete with the seasonal plants he carries. He also works with individuals or community groups interested in learning more about the transformative ability to grow food themselves. To contact Samuel to see how he can help turn your thumb green, check him out at https://www.facebook.com/means.greens
Whether you’re a seasoned pro like Samuel or a novicejust getting started, consider using Food Loops sustainablecompost in your garden or farm. At https://foodloops.net/collections/nutrient-rich-compost we have it by the wheelbarrow or the truck load because we work with everyone from the weekend gardener to the full-scale nursery grower alike. Order online today or call Tom at 479-621-5642 for more information.