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What better symbol of our commitment to Slow principles and ecological living than growing a garden? Home food production is almost a forgotten art, but Kitchen Gardeners International (KGI) and Portland, Maine convivium leader David Buchanan are working to reverse today’s downward trends and help revive our gardens.

By David Buchanan

According to USDA statistics, today we buy more than 99 percent of the food we eat, and the percentage of home-grown food continues to decline. And yet backyard gardens and community plots can play a vital role in food production, as they did during the Second World War. At its height the Victory Garden movement produced nearly 40% of the produce consumed in this country. A reinvigorated garden movement could dramatically improve the way we grow and consume food.

In some cases all that’s needed to start changing the way we eat and live on the land is a few basic tools, seeds and information. With that in mind, I traveled to Argentina in January to design and build a school garden in a shantytown neighborhood near Buenos Aires, and help launch a new KGI initiative.

The project’s goal is to provide technical advice, training, tools, seeds and financial support for gardens in impoverished communities in the US and abroad. I spent nearly a month in Argentina designing the school’s garden site, managing construction of planting beds and a pergola, prepping the soil, and working with local children to plant a variety of vegetables, herbs and fruits. I’ll continue to stay involved to provide advice and support (and work with a school in Portland to form a sister garden project for their Spanish students).

KGI plans to build on this and other related projects, such as microgrant funding for a seed-saving and garden training initiative in India, by linking donors to worthy projects. For more information about its stewardship program, please email me at stillmangreen@yahoo.com or call (207)772-2710.

Photos and a write-up of my experience with the school garden in Argentina are available at www.eatbydesign.org in the “travel” section.

Please visit www.kitchengardeners.org to learn more about Kitchen Gardeners International.