© David Stubbs Photography

© David Stubbs Photography

Ellie watches the garden grow.

© David Stubbs Photography

© David Stubbs Photography

© David Stubbs Photography

Part of the Solution

Monday, October 17th, 2011

Rather than talk about how to make Jackson more sustainable and submit to the suburban life of south park, where we live, my wife Bille and I decided to make some changes in our own lives, believing that collective change through individual responsibility is the only way we are going to get anywhere.

We may not have services within walking distance in this rural part of the valley, but what we do have is an immense amount of powerful sun and a solid source of groundwater. A small garden seemed like the obvious first step, despite the short growing season.

While I grew up clueless about growing food in a sweltering suburb, where the forests of my childhood were paved into strip malls, Bille came from a small farm in southern Germany. There was hope, despite the snow still falling in June.

Together with some friends, we built the garden with weathered pine from an old buck and rail fence in a frigid spring downpour. Terra Firma, a local company creating organic compost, delivered a pile of soil and we had ourselves 80 square feet to grow organic produce that would never require another drop of gasoline. All it took was an idea, a couple hundred bucks, good friends and a few days of labor.

Now in mid October, we are eternally grateful for our second year harvest, having stuffed ourselves with salad greens, beets, carrots, snap peas, strawberries, green beans, broccoli, and cauliflower. While having fresh organic salads throughout the summer is delicious and satisfying, the biggest satisfaction was in the time spent in the garden itself, watching my three-year-old learn where her food comes from.

Rarely did a snap pea or carrot ever make it to the kitchen. These were daily snacks that we munched on with cherry tomatoes still warm from the sun. Caring for the garden became a type of meditation for me and I found the same peace and slowing of time that I seek out on the Snake river or walking in the mountains. I kept wondering why something so simple and basic to humanity had not been part of my life before, and why it remained foreign to so much of our country.

The small garden. There is nothing unique or complicated about it. It feeds you. It brings happiness, and it is part of the solution. If you can do it in the Rockies at over 6000 feet, you can do it almost anywhere.

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