Why “Grow Your Own Food!” Might Not Be So Easy For Poor People -Part 2

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After publishing my last post about obstacles to gardening when you’re poor, I realized there were maybe one or two points I missed…but then I read my emails and discovered there was more than just one or two things I neglected to mention!  Thank you everyone who shared their individual experiences and gave feedback.

More Obstacles To Growing Your Own Food

I’m feeling like a lot of these points are reasons all people,regardless of socio-economic status might not garden.

Water –

I can’t believe I missed this one. I lived in a house without running water for awhile. Rain collection barrels helped but it was a pain in the ass.

In drought-afflicted areas, there are tight water restrictions. People who have to pay for water aren’t able to justify using large amounts every day . Rain collecting doesn’t work where it doesn’t rain and some states now prohibit rain collection now.

Pests

Sometimes there is no other way to combat animals that eat your garden other than building a fence. Building a deer proof fence…it’s not cheap. If you love in an urban setting, shooting an animal probably isn’t legal and catching them in a humane trap doesn’t do much good if you have no way to transport it outside of the area.

Food Storage

One reader told me, “We managed to grow quite a bit but I ended up giving a lot of it away which seems to defeat the point.I filled my tiny freezer. I didn’t have money to buy a canner, which was too bad since I have enough mason jars to get me through doomsday ,if I could have just filled them with food! I don’t know how to can anyway….”

I can completely understand this. We scored an upright freezer at a yard sale years ago for only $30 and my Faux-MIL gave me a pressure cooker one Christmas. Both are really helpful when you do manage to grow any food in quantity.

“Gardening is fucking HARD!”

Thanks to Melissa for lending me that quoted headline right there.  Add to this Shantay’s “Mother Nature sucks sometimes.”

Many readers shared their experience of spending money they did not have because they felt they needed to provide for themselves only to battle with surprise snow storms, bugs,hail,kids,animals,poor soil,plant disease,mildew,drought,flooding…. you know…pretty much every bad thing that can happen when you garden.

Once people have a horrible,no good,very bad experience with gardening, they aren’t likely to venture back into it,especially when they didn’t get a return on their investment the first time.

You can buy seeds with EBT? Who knew!?

It turns out a lot of people on food stamps didn’t even know that. Some people who did know that and had tried to buy seeds using their EBT said that they found limited gardening places that would take EBT and they weren’t interested in GMO seeds at the grocery store. Seed saving from store bought produce only works if you’re absolutely certain of the seed heritage .Most are hybrid and aren’t going to grow right (some won’t produce anything at all).

This part of the program is fairly new ,so perhaps the USDA has more plans to expand upon it .Maybe by offering gardening classes for SNAP & low income people?

Community Garden Plots Cost Money

True story. So do memberships to CSAs…although in my area, there is one CSA that has a sliding fee scale based on income and has a few shares reserved for SNAP recipients.

I received an awesome email from a reader who cannot grow her own food because of several of the original points I mentioned. Her email was long but there was one point I wanted to share:

“Even when I say to someone all the reasons I can’t garden, they throw WHERE THERE’S A WILL,THERE’S A WAY at me. I have will! I WANT to grow my own food! Hand to God cannot do it right now. Otherwise I would! I’ve ALWAYS had a garden and I’m good at it. My will & knowledge isn’t the problem here and it just makes me feel like a giant piece of dog shit when someone lays the guilt trip on me that I’m not doing enough to help feed myself because I don’t have enough will. “

Yeah. The “Where there’s a will,there’s a way” thing is getting old for me,too.

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8 thoughts on “Why “Grow Your Own Food!” Might Not Be So Easy For Poor People -Part 2

  1. Thank you for this! I wrote about our experience with SNAP and WIC, and a commenter noted that I was neglecting to grow food for my family. We live in an apartment. No community garden. Getting my aloe plant potted cost three times more than I expected it to. Space, time and energy to cultivate plant life–it’s hard! So glad I found your blog!

  2. I have TWO “used to be, tried to be, weren’t” gardens in my backyard. We managed to grow corn and tomatoes one year but that was it. All that time, all that effort, all those hours and for what? Two patches of my backyard that look like the place I keep the dead bodies. If someone tells me, “Where there’s a will, there’s a way.” I’m going to punch them and not arrested through sheer will.

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