Freedom Gardens and the 100 Foot Diet Challenge

Promotional poster for Freedom GardensMore and more people are taking the plunge into backyard gardening. Some are even planting fruits and veggies in their front yard and adopting the “no-mow” approach. Last year one website, Freedom Gardens, used its social networking platform to coordinate the “100 Foot Diet Challenge.” Hundreds of gardeners throughout the country accepted the invitation by getting out their hoes and spades.

The “Freedom Garden” borrows its name from the Victory Garden movement (but dropped its the militaristic overtones). Victory Gardens were popular during World War II, during which many Americans ramped up local food production as a means to bolster the economy and support the war effort. (Hard to believe anyone ever considered gardening to be patriotic.)

“Eat Your View”

The 100 Foot Diet tag was inspired byΒ  the “100 mile diet,” a local-eating approach popularized by Alisa Smith and J. B. MacKinnon. Practitioners of the 100 Foot Diet Challenge expand the emphasis on reducing one’s carbon footprint by growing most of the food they consume.

The challenge was the brainchild of the Dervaes family of Pasadena, urban homesteaders who have cultivated a bountiful farm on their estate, whose garden only takes up 1/10 acre. Jules Dervaes and his three adult children, Anais, Justin, and Jordanne, document their advances in self-sufficiency on their Path to Freedom website.

Anais says that there are several benefits to a Freedom Garden. Some of the more attractive include

  • More nutritious food
  • Increased food security
  • Reduction in the number of miles your food travels
  • Greater participation in the local food economy (if you have a surplus that you can sell or trade)

Judging by the hundreds of people who signed up, the Dervaeses consider the challenge, which launched last January, a success. Anais believes that it struck a chord with people who were “fed up with food miles, foreign oil, and skyrocketing food prices and concerned about where their food comes from.”

A few months after the diet challenge, Freedom Gardens launched the “Harvest Keeper” challenge to preserve whatever bounty they produced through canning and storage methods. Such activities are all part of what has been dubbed the “homegrown revolution.”

More posts about “going local”:

Image Credit: Freedom Gardens

  1. dee vee

    lasagna gardens are the way to convert useless lawns into food-producing water-efficient food producers!
    we collect dead leaves, they are bagged and put out curbside for pickup, and i divert some to our garden.
    we lay down cardboard, cover with a THICK LAYER OF LEAVES,add some woodchips, barnyard bedding, horse manure or what have you, finally cover thw works with hay or straw.
    Let sit until spring, and plant potatoes, auash in hills of rich soil, tomatoes in a lil hill of soil, and let it grow, by fall you have deep rich soil, not a sign of lawn, and the worms did all the work, and its population has shor up in gratitude!

  2. Esmaa Self

    I would like to add to the previous commenter’s thoughts. Do not use horse manure, as horses pass whole weed seed,leaving you with very well fertilized weeds. Instead use chicken, sheep, cow, llama or rabbit manure. Also, do not use hay, as hay contains seed heads. Use straw only or you’ll end up creating a full-time weeding job for yourself.

    But do try the lasagna gardening method and do grow your own veggies. You’ll be amazed at the quality of homegrown food.

    Even if you don’t have a yard, you can have a great garden. Tomatoes, potatoes, basil, beans, peppers, lettuce and many more veggies make beautiful patio container gardens. Additionally, you could take a plot in your local community garden, many allow members to sell their produce at farmers’ markets.

  3. Uncle B

    During this (GRD) great republican depression, many of our neighbors will suffer greatly. In the recession, last year, they lined up at the food-banks, and I was able to give baskets of tomatoes and potatoes away, all from my back yard garden. This year, the line up will be longer, and with the great tips found on websites like this one, I hope to enlarge my garden and improve production some. Fertilizers are very expensive these days. I am looking for tips on fertilizers. I already compost, and humanure has been suggested. We live in a country with very few animals, so fertilizer is scarce! What to Do!

  4. Liz M owner hyperlocavore

    For folks that don’t have a yard, or don’t have tons of time, or lack strength – consider joining a yard sharing group. Its like a community garden, but a bit smaller. Just you and the folks you want to grow food with.
    hyperlocavore.com is a site here to help you find yard sharing partners, set up a neighborhood produce exchange or generally share your gardening projects!

    Also – it’s free!

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