As the global pandemic washes over America in a great wave, it forces us to evaluate the need for change in the way we view healthy living. Now more than ever, the impending crisis, an upheaval that, in part, urges us to resourcefully sustain a lifestyle of healthy living while navigating food shortages.

I am always encouraging you to foster healthy living practices that stretch beyond the way you eat. Well, today, you can take the next step in your journey to health and wellness and avoid the interruption in food supply by learning to garden.

WWII was the last time that Americans expressed concern over possible food shortages. At this point, the COVID-19 crisis has yet to threaten the food supply seriously. On the other hand, the pandemic has disrupted the food chain, which contributes to the empty supermarket shelves.

A Matter of Balance

When I was young, my dad and I would often board his 24 Boston Whaler with the Fiberglass hull, and streak through the remote waterways of the Chesapeake Bay and Tangier Sound.

I remember one bright summer afternoon in particular where we explored a marshway and found a pristine beach to enjoy a picnic. After an hour or so of beachcombing, dark storm clouds loomed to the east.

The temperature plummeted, and the wind stirred up whitecaps. As we headed home, rain fell in torrents.

We waves crashed over the bow of the Whaler drenching us both. Every pound into the trough of a wave knocked us several degrees off course. Thunder and lightning chased our small craft through the channels and into the harbor.

My father confidently negotiated the dangerous route back to the mainland.

As the boat streaked across the sound, I watched every landmark that jutted out of the landscape. I scanned the horizon for familiar channel markers and the glimmer of lights from the harbor.

The truth is, until being caught in that storm, I had become complacent about the potential hazards of being on open water.

That experience taught me the importance of managing a delicate balance between discernment and being overly-confident.

That’s where we stand, right now, with an impending ripple in the food supply chain. We have to make a plan should that ripple develop into a wave.

Healthy Living Through the Pandemic

gardening
Stella de Smit – Unsplash

Author, farmer, and philosopher, Wendell Berry, reminds us that “Eating is an agricultural act,” Undoubtedly, COVID19 disrupts the processes in getting food from the field to the table.

In the last two months, COVID19 caused processing plants to close, which hindered the supply chain.

If you want a realistic picture of what’s going on with our food supply during a pandemic, then it’s best to listen to someone directly involved in food production, like a farmer.

Farmers are still producing adequate amounts of food during these shaky times. Once the food leaves a farm and heads to processing, “there are gaps in the way we process it and get it to consumers.

Some would somewhat mistakenly assume that food will always be plentiful. Yes, God is most assuredly still in control. But we have to do our part to persevere through this calamity.

Tips for a Corona Garden

Gardening can become a family project. “A green thumb is a myth. Anyone can become a gardener or farmer; it just takes practice and the ability to learn from mistakes. “ I’ve been gardening for decades and guaranteed every year I manage to overwater or underwater something.

Gardening requires trial and error. Making mistakes is a learning opportunity to discover what grows in your area and soil.

The Space and Place For Your Garden

If you have space, grow a garden slightly larger than your kitchen table. Novice gardeners can go to a local nursery and buy plants rather than rely on seeds. An excellent place for your garden is near the kitchen.

Maybe you live in the middle of a city, and you are surrounded by asphalt. Then, grow a garden in raised beds or container gardens. Don’t forget to plant zinnias and sunflowers; they will add happiness to your outdoor space.

Offer to co-share a garden with a farmer or a neighbor who has the extra space. Together decide about which crops to plant, divide responsibilities, and post-harvest jobs.

Test Your Soil

Before you break ground, test your soil to make sure it contains the nutrients that plants need.  The test analyzes the levels of the nutrient contents or deficiencies of your soil. The fee for soil testing costs anywhere from FREE (depending on which state you live) to $25. You can contact the local Cooperative Extension office in your state and inquire about a soil test.

The three major soil nutrients are nitrogen, phosphorous, and potassium. Nitrogen promotes healthy leaf growth, phosphorous ensures strong roots, and potassium regulates the flow of moisture in the plant.

Your Zone

The United States Department of Agriculture devised a Plant Hardiness Zone Map, which divides North America into growing zones based on winter temperatures. Consult this map to determine your growing zone then plant accordingly.

Plant According to Season

Plan to grow annual vegetables in each season. Select the right plants for a particular season. Cole crops like cabbage, broccoli, and dark leafy greens thrive in cool weather.

If you feel confident, try planting perennial fruit trees, also known as brambles, like blackberries, raspberries, blueberries, and strawberries.

Eat to Sustain Health

With a fragile food supply chain, it’s best to devise an eating plan that includes foods that nourish and leave the processed foods on the shelf.

In the coming days, you can expect to see shortages of your favorite fresh produce. When that happens, opt for the frozen version or use this opportunity to try something new that is available.

Other Ways to Access Food During Food Supply Shortage

  • Join a Community Supported Agriculture group (CSA) or volunteer to help one in exchange for produce. Find a CSA in your community.
  • Shop at Farmer’s Markets. In alliance with COVID19 social distancing mandates, many local Farmer’s Markets offer on-line ordering and curbside pick-up. Find a Farmer’s Market in your area.

Strike a balance

The story of the storm that interrupted our boating excursion lasted maybe 45-minutes to an hour. At the time, it seemed like an eternity before we arrived safely to the harbor.

Right now, it may seem as though the pandemic lingers like a bad dream, particularly if the virus has struck you or a loved one. We must continue to be resourceful and self-sufficient until our world returns to normal.

You can maintain a lifestyle of healthy living by learning to grow your own food and get exercise while tending to your garden.

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3 Comments

  1. Lisa on April 16, 2020 at 9:17 pm
    Thank you Denise for sharing your story and very helpful information. .
  2. Jasmine on April 22, 2020 at 5:36 pm
    This is such great information on farming! It's such a forgotten topic but I'm passionate about it! A great read! -Jasmine
    • Denise Sultenfuss on April 23, 2020 at 9:38 am
      Hi Jasmine, I am glad that you enjoyed the article. Best of luck in your farming endeavors. Warmly, Denise

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