MIKE WINTERS

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March 14, 2014
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Guest column: Grow your own produce for health and self-reliance

This is going to be an interesting year for agriculture, with the Central Valley of California not receiving any water from the Central Valley Project.

This project was built to provide irrigation water to farms and ranches in the Central Valley, which lies between Sacramento south to Bakersfield. As a result of the water shut-off, 500,000 acres of farmland will remain fallow (non-productive).

This not only affects growers of fruits, nuts and vegetables, but cattle, hogs, chickens, turkeys and sheep as well. This equates to less of everything and prices will increase. How about that $10 tomato or that $20 watermelon?

The principle hang-up, besides no snow or rain, is the Endangered Species Act. The water is being withheld from agriculture so that salmon and smelt will have their fair share. Bottom line is that fish are more important than feeding people.

The president visited Central Valley recently and promised $100 million in livestock-disaster aid, but no water for agriculture. The president said he would veto a bill passed in the house that would relax environmental protections for the endangered fish and give more water to farmers. What a thoughtful man!

Now is the time to start your gardening career. If you have any ground in your yard for a garden, get it ready to grow as much food as you can. Not only for your own family, but for your neighbor as well.

A plot of ground 10-by-10 feet can grow $700 or more of food. If you live in an apartment or condo, become a container gardener. If you don’t know where or how to start, get advice from someone who knows. There are extension agents, farmers, or nursery people who can help.

If your church has any vacant ground, put it into vegetables. Last year, my church produced more than 12,000 pounds of produce and gave it all away.

Encourage your local community leaders to let unused ground become mini-farms. Involve schools, churches, clubs and anyone who will contribute to this effort. It can be a good time to meet your neighbors and get healthy together.

When you plant a small seed and nurture it into a full-blown zucchini, you can easily feed 20 families.

Mike Winters of Winston founded his business, Wintergreen Nursery, Landscape and Florist 41 years ago. Prior to that, he did watershed studies for Oregon State University on the 17,000-acre Andrews Experimental Forest. He can be reached at 541-679-8224 or wntgreen@rosenet.net.


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The News-Review Updated Mar 14, 2014 11:21AM Published Mar 14, 2014 11:08AM Copyright 2014 The News-Review. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.