I was recently re-reading an interview with Sandor Katz in The Sun (May, 2010). In the interview, Katz comments on the possible increase in gardening as a response to the current recession, saying "Less disposible income means that people will have to rely on the informal economy that has always existed on the outskirts of the official economy: people growing food for themselves and trading it with other people". Not only does this make financial sense, but Katz also points out the need to get "our hands dirty in the soil and interact with the web of life on a daily basis".
I love the idea of both stepping outside of a formal economy and getting my hands dirty, but it doesn't always seem a viable option when living in an urban environment. This Summer, our balcony garden provided us with tomatoes throughout the season, and our basil plant was a loyal provider of a steady source of salad and sauce ingredients. Right now, the grapevine we've had for two seasons is producing beautiful fruit that we are starting to wonder how to best put to use. The thrill of growing food yourself, and the joy of eating it, is a wonderfule experience, but wasn't anywhere near a sustainable alternative to marketting.
I love living of our little land, comprised of a balcony and windowsills, but it obviously has limits. But then I started thinking about the potential of all the limited space in every Parisian apartment and the possibility of it being combined to become a polycultural community garden of sorts.
More specifically, what if anyone who was interested could commit to growing one or two things, like lettuce and parsley, or whatever herbs they wish, and then kept what they needed for their family, and traded the excess with another Parisian Paysanne who had grown something else. You could plant or make whatever you wanted; flowers, fruits, veg, herbs, jams, kimchi, yogurt, whatever you want to try or you like to eat and share with others.
I'd like to put this option to whoever is reading this and is interested. I'm calling the project "Paris Paysanne" and everyone is welcome. I'd like to create a site that reunites all us urban farmers so we can arrange who wants to grow what and when we can exchange our goods. For the moment, please post a commentary to this article if you're interested.
To get started, here's a list of some things to plant in October:
Biocoop has seeds in stock. I also found this site where you can order organic seeds of all kinds for very reasonable prices.
I'm planning on transitioning from tomatoes to spinach and lettuce...I'll trade you!