When farms and market-gardens are run sustainably, the gardens and other resources are managed as naturally as possible and provide a good living for the grower.
Growers are able to provide their customers with the best possible vegetables, harvested at the peak of flavor and nutrition.
Produce grown with synthetic pesticides and herbicides cannot be grown sustainably.
The consumption of fossil
fuels, extensive loss of topsoil and pollution of our water is at the heart of
an excellent comparison of conventional agriculture and sustainable agriculture.
At Lettuce Patch Gardens we embrace sustainable agriculture. We fertilize our
crops naturally. Straw, leaves, weeds and spent vegetable plants from the
gardens are composted and nourish the soil. Our soil stewardship practices allow
us to minimize the amount of off-site fertilizers that we purchase. Mulching and
vigilant hand-pulling helps keep the weeds under
control instead of spraying herbicides. We don't have much of a need for
pesticides, and the ones we do use on occasion are no more harmful than soap.
Because the soil is fed well and bacterial activity in the soil is high, the
soil is healthy enough to feed healthy plants without the need for chemical
fertilizers. Our gardens a source for truly local and truly seasonal food. Our produce, grown and
eaten when it is "in season" is the freshest and best tasting you can find.
When food is grown locally consumption of polluting fossil fuels is significantly reduced. As fuel prices rise and oil becomes more scarce, the cost of food will also rise.
The David Suzuki Foundation estimates that much of our food travels over 2,400 kilometers just to get to our dinner table. What's even more astounding is that the production of the food needed to feed a family of four, including packaging and distribution, releases up to eight tons of carbon dioxide annually. Due to "conventional" agricultural practices, 15 metric tons of soil are lost annually to feed each US resident because our large-scale agricultural practices erode soil. This amounts to 2 billion tons of soil a year. Almost 40 percent of the world's agricultural land is seriously degraded. Modern agriculture causes about one quarter of the risk of climate change.
Sustainably grown produce, on the other hand, results in the growth of new topsoil. By adding substantial organic matter to the soil, we can actually remove excess CO2 from the atmosphere by turning it into carbon.
Learn more about sustainable agriculture at the National Campaign for Sustainable Agriculture
Why hydroponic lettuce is NOT "better than organic" and is not sustainable:
Sustainable is defined as "a method of harvesting or using a resource so that the resource is not depleted or permanently damaged."
Many hydroponic growers will tell you that their methods are better than growing in soil because they use "cutting edge" technology to grow plants. But what they don't tell you is that the nutrient solutions they use are typically derived from petrochemicals, and are not organic. Even if they are derived from organic sources they have to be highly processed, which generally requires the consumption of fossil fuels. Hydroponic growing requires that the greenhouse is heated even in the depths of winter. Heated greenhouses require large amounts of fossil fuels to heat, light, pump nutrient solutions and control the mass of equipment that runs them 24 hours per day. This is not sustainable.
Some of these same arguments can be made about large-scale organic agriculture that relies on the conventional factory farm model but uses organic fertilizers and pesticides. Large farms also use fossil fuels to run their large-farm machinery, and they transport food long distance, again using more fossil fuels. Again, this is an issue of sustainability. That is why we support a vision of truly local, small-scale agriculture.
Whether or not organically grown food is better depends on how it is grown. At Lettuce Patch Gardens we don't use any petrochemicals and we use the smallest amount of outside fertilizer possible. We also keep a lot of leaves, coffee grounds and other food waste out of landfills by composting. The biggest difference between heated greenhouses and our gardens is that we rely on a pollution-free heat source-the sun. It may not be "cutting-edge" but it has worked for thousands of years.
Remember - Sustainable is "a method of harvesting or using a resource so that the resource is not depleted or permanently damaged." What can we find in the heated greenhouses that does not deplete resources? The fertilizers? The CO2 units, fans, heaters, water pumps and lights? None of these things returns anything to the earth to nourish it and grow more food. They consume large amounts of fossil fuels and petrochemicals that pollute our air and water. They do not compost, because they have no need for it. Nothing about heated greenhouses, especially ones that use soil-less growing methods is sustainable.
So, the next time you hear that food grown in a heated greenhouse is "better" or "cleaner" than organic, ask yourself -- is it really?
The contrast between actual sustainable agriculture and heated greenhouse growing is stark-
For help finding local and organic food options go to our list of Colorado small farms and market-gardens
Organic Consumers Union is a grassroots non-profit public interest organization which deals with crucial issues of food safety, industrial agriculture, genetic engineering, corporate accountability, and environmental sustainability.
Check out The Meatrix to see a clever flash movie about the meat industry.
Most of us need to be reminded that food
is the generous result of a collaboration
between our species
and the rest of nature,
not just simply another product of industrial collaboration
~ Joan Dye Gussow
What is Biodiversity?
Biodiversity is the total genetic variation in the world's living organisms. Genetic variables are crucial to nature's ability to build resilience and adapt to particular environmental conditions. Lettuce Patch Gardens is committed to biodiversity. We use only organically grown seeds and prefer to use heirloom seeds whenever possible.
What are Heirloom seeds and varieties?
Heirloom plants are the gift of our genetic heritage. They have been passed down through the generations. Most heirloom varieties are of European descent, brought here by immigrants and saved diligently by each generation. Unfortunately, modern agricultural practices have caused us to lose 97% of the vegetable varieties that were available in the U.S. in 1900.1 Each of the remaining heirloom varieties is therefore a precious commodity. They are all treasures that have endured the test of time and have unique characteristics, including wonderful flavor, hardiness and resistance to disease and drought.
Articles of Interest:
Then I say the earth belongs to each generation during its course, fully and in its own right, no generation can contract debts greater than may be paid during the course of its own existence.