From a letter to the editor of the Charlotte Observer I wrote in June 2006:
I would like to propose that our citizens, city government and various city news resources take up the issue of national security by first thinking of local security. In the age of the impending dooms of pandemic, global warming, peak oil and world war, it is important to recognize the dependency our lives have on the global economy and to make efforts to reduce that dependency to ensure we are able to endure and succeed under any natural, national or global circumstance. Bringing security down to a local level doesn’t involve guns and alarm systems. I suggest that it starts with a trowel.
There are few pursuits in life as rewarding as a home garden. Whether in a few pots in an apartment window or spread out across a backyard; growing your own fruit, vegetables and flowers can add an amazing amount of peace and security to your life. As Francis Bacon said, “God Almighty first planted a garden.” And when you are unable to grow enough for your needs, finding locally produced foods and goods is a terrific supplement or alternative. These foods taste great and are a boost for the local economy.
Last winter, I ripped up an old basketball court in my backyard and began the planning for our family vegetable garden. This spring, I have enjoyed working in the garden nearly every day – using the space as a classroom to learn more. Now on Saturday mornings, I drive a few miles over to the Matthews Farmer’s Market and buy locally produced vegetables, fruits and breads and to learn more about what our local area can do.
My concern is that in modern Charlotte, we have lost the understanding of the importance of the garden and the local harvest. As we rush about our lives, jobs and commutes, we have entire groups of people who have no idea how to plant even the most basic of items. Shopping and dining are done without regard to source. I have seen what local gardening and encouraged agricultural entrepreneurship have done in Asheville and the Triangle area and it is amazing. As the largest city in the Carolinas, it is discouraging that neither within the city limits nor in the outskirts of our metropolis do we have the appropriately sized local harvest infrastructure that exists in these other communities. (For comparative data, please see www.localharvest.com)
Individually, the effort to create a homegrown safety net for the challenges of the future begins in the backyards of our homes, the vacant lots, and the patios and windows of our apartments. With our wallets, we must buy locally produced foods to create demand in the marketplace. INSIST on locally produced food when you shop or dine out and move dollars to those businesses and individuals willing to provide a local solution. Learn more about sustainable living on a personal level.
City leaders and news sources should highlight the infrastructure that exists within a 50-mile radius of Charlotte and support campaigns to encourage the build out of additional infrastructure. This effort should become a key component of our local preparedness plan. A sustainable living program should be a facet of our city government.
Knowledge, planning and actions toward locally-based sustainability are the best homegrown security solutions available to us. It has served civilization well.