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05.12.10

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350 garden challenge

By Gretchen Giles


Last October in these pages, we reported on activist and journalist Bill McKibben's quest to reduce greenhouse-gas emissions worldwide to 350 parts per million. In 2009, McKibben was on a feverish yearlong quest to raise hackles and awareness in advance of what many now feel was a failed climate-change conference held in Denmark last December.

But all is not lost and all is certainly not over in terms of raising public awareness about global warming. Taking up McKibben's 350 mandate is the newly launched 350 Garden Challenge, spearheaded by iGrowSonoma, Daily Acts, GoLocal and the Living Mandala in association with the Sonoma County Water Agency. Further outreach is managed by the Victory Gardens Foundation based in Oakland. The idea is easy and something many of us are already doing: plant a garden. No room? Plant some parsley on the window sill. Possess a thumb as black as ebony? Volunteer to dig or mow or weed in someone else's garden.

The 350 Garden Challenge in Sonoma County is aiming to have that many new garden plots or parsley planters or volunteer diggers signed up by their launch weekend May 15–16. The idea is as simple as encouraging nasturtiums (the only flower this writer can coax): If you know where your food comes from, and better yet, if it comes from your very own self, the chance that it will sicken you with E. coli are almost nil. If it's not trucked in from over 150 miles away, greenhouse gas emissions go down. If you know how to grow food, you can always eat.

Signing up for the 350 Garden Challenge is painless and free. Members get discounts on purchases at participating local nurseries and advice on what plants harmonize, which soils need amending and when to plant what where. iGrow Sonoma even offers to coordinate volunteers willing to come out to your patch and help you get the hang of planting. What used to be as normal as a kitchen garden seems slightly daunting to citizens just three generations from such normality, but iGrow assures that we can come back to the land again, even if that land is as slim as a kitchen windowsill. www.igrowsonoma.org.


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