Before and after! Here are photos I took of my new community garden plot that I began working on in early August. In the “before” photo you see what it was like when I first saw it, full of weeds and grass. I knew it would take a lot of work, but then I began to see the amazing potential it had. The first step was the hardest; pulling and digging up all the weeds and grass with the help of my dad, leaving the artichoke, the only edible plant on the plot. After all the weeding was done I began to see the plot as a blank canvas just waiting to be transformed.
I then thought of a documentary I saw called “Back to Eden,” which taught me sustainable organic growing methods that are capable of being implemented in diverse climates around the world. Before I returned to my plot I watched the documentary again and I felt much more confident knowing how to plan and take action. I made a map of where the paths and beds would be. We contacted a gardening service, which brought organic soil and wood mulch from a local company in their truck. I helped unload it onto my plot. I decided to put a layer of dried leaves over the dirt, and over that a layer of organic soil that I mixed with chicken manure and worm castings. I then added on the top a layer of wood mulch, which helps retain moisture in the soil, gives nutrients, keeps weeds down, etc. When the beds were in place my dad and I created paths by digging trenches and lining them with newspaper. Next we brought in thick wood chips which we scattered on the newspaper. And this is when the fun really began!
My mom and I started thinking of all the fruits, vegetables, herbs, and flowers we would plant. I then bought organic and heirloom seeds and young plants. I began by planting in the large beds rows of basil, spinach, beets, onion, mixed greens, lettuce, borage (which bees love), swiss chard, lacinato and curly kale. In the two smaller beds my mom and I planted broccoli, lettuce, peas, radish, onion, and more herbs such as basil, dill, oregano, tarragon, thyme, and sage. A few weeks after planting I took the “after” photo and was surprised how fast everything came up from the soil, thanks to the “Back to Eden” garden method. I am amazed and so very happy every time I visit my plot and see how everything is growing more and more each day. I also enjoy taking home bags of fresh-picked greens and herbs for a large and delicious salad every night. I hope my experiences will inspire you to grow some of your own food and live more abundantly!

After years of back-breaking toil in ground ravaged by the effects of man-made growing systems, Paul Gautschi has discovered a taste of what God intended for mankind in the garden of Eden. Some of the vital issues facing agriculture today include soil preparation, fertilization, irrigation, weed control, pest control, crop rotation, and PH issues. None of these issues exist in the unaltered state of nature or in Paul’s gardens and orchards.

"Back to Eden" invites you to take a walk with Paul as he teaches you sustainable organic growing methods that are capable of being implemented in diverse climates around the world.

Dacha Gardens of Russia Produce 40% of the Nation’s Food
While many in the world are completely dependent on large scale agriculture, the Russian people feed themselves. Their agricultural economy is small scale, predominantly organic and in the capable hands of the nation’s people. Russians have something built into their DNA that creates the desire to grow their own food. It’s a habit that has fed the Russian nation for centuries. It’s not just a hobby but a massive contribution to Russia’s agriculture. 
In 2011, 51% of Russia’s food was grown either by dacha communities (40%), like those pictured in Sisto-Palkino, or peasant farmers (11%) leaving the rest (49%) of production to the large agricultural enterprises. But when you dig down into the earthy data from the Russian Statistics Service you discover some impressive details. Again in 2011, dacha gardens produced over 80% of the countries fruit and berries, over 66% of the vegetables, almost 80% of the potatoes and nearly 50% of the nations milk, much of it consumed raw.
While many European governments make living on a small-holding very difficult, in Russia the opposite is the case. In the UK one councillor's opinion regarding living on the land was, “Nobody would subject themselves to that way of life. You might as well be in prison”; tell that to a nation of gardeners living off the land.
During the communist period school children were obliged to visit their local farms to get hands-on experience harvesting food at a time when about 90% of the nation’s food came from dacha gardens. During the same period every child would be expected to play their part in growing the family’s food from their small patch of Russia.
While the percentage of food grown by Russia’s dacha has fallen since then it is still a massive contribution to the nation’s food and forms an important part of their rural heritage. Take a walk through the street’s of Russia’s cities, like St. Petersburg, and you will find people selling herbs, fruit, berries and vegetables from their dacha gardens. Unlike many cities in Europe and the USA, Russian cities are peppered with small corner shops selling locally grown food in all shapes, colors and sizes still carrying their native Russian soil.    If you were to visit a typical Russian dacha you’re likely to be greeted with a welcoming dish called okroshka, a refreshing cold soup made from home grown cucumber, radish, spring onion, fresh dill and parsley all swimming in kvas (a home made rye bread drink) with sour cream or kefir.
Seattle’s vision of an urban food oasis is going forward. A seven-acre plot of land in the city’s Beacon Hill neighborhood will be planted with hundreds of different kinds of edibles: walnut and chestnut trees; blueberry and raspberry bushes; fruit trees, including apples and pears; exotics like pineapple, yuzu citrus, guava, persimmons, honeyberries, and lingonberries; herbs; and more. All will be available for public plucking to anyone who wanders into the city’s first food forest.
“This is totally innovative, and has never been done before in a public park,” Margarett Harrison, lead landscape architect for the Beacon Food Forest project, tells TakePart. Harrison is working on construction and permit drawings now and expects to break ground this summer.
The concept of a food forest certainly pushes the envelope on urban agriculture and is grounded in the concept of permaculture, which means it will be perennial and self-sustaining, like a forest is in the wild. Not only is this forest Seattle’s first large-scale permaculture project, but it’s also believed to be the first of its kind in the nation.
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"The therapeutic effect of gardening is not to be underestimated. It’s one of the best ways to get back to nature and feel a union with the natural environment that surrounds us. The garden can be large or small – it doesn’t matter. The point is to work with the soil and touch the ground. Secure your life force and strengthen it by working with the soil. The Earth strengthens your life aura and your internal organs become stronger. The liver begins to detoxify and the organs become revitalized by the natural energetic detoxification provided by the Earth and its soil. By working in the garden we gain a sense of our connection to the source from which we came. We can continually feel this source within us for days and access it at any time we wish. Take advantage of the life and wealth the soil brings to you and become truly alive." -Medical Medium
If you can dream it, you can do it.
Photo taken at the Urban Homestead city farm.
Just imagine how many resources are used up for lawns. And how amazing would it be to know where your food comes from? Grow food and fuel your life!