Incredible Edible Everything
MAIN TOPIC OF VIDEO: Growing food in your own backyard and or front yard.
1. What is the environmental impact of having a lawn? Be as specific as possible.
2. What is the environmental impact of growing fruits and vegetables in your own front and or back yard? Be as specific as possible.
3. What are some fruits and vegetables you can grow? Be as specific as possible.
1. How can you plant fruits/vegetables where you live? Be as specific as possible.
2. How can you use waste fruit/vegetable matter to further benefit your garden? Be as specific as possible.
3.Who has a greater ecological footprint: an omnivore, a vegetarian, or a vegan? Why? Be as specific as possible.
1. Is it possible to grow pineapples in Northern California? Why or Why not
2. Describe what you have to do to turn the yard below into a fruit/vegetable garden. Be as specific as possible.
3. What are ecological benefits of having a fruit/vegetable garden? Be as specific as possible.
ANSWERS TO DISCUSSION QUESTIONS
1. In the midst of a drought, having a lawn begs many questions. First and foremost, how much water are you using to maintain your lawn? This is perhaps one of the greatest environmental impacts of having a lawn. Secondly, the use of fertilizers (at least in the beginning) to maintain your lawn leads to possible runoff during rainstorms. Often these fertilizers which contain nitrates and phosphates make their way into local waterways such as creeks which then can potentially lead to cultural eutrophication. Lastly, having a lawn leads to lack of biodiversity as a lawn is monoculture. You are usually growing only one species of grass.
2. Having a fruit and vegetable garden has a lesser impact on the environment. First of all, the fact that you can eat what you grow minimizes your ecological footprint. Secondly, if you are composting your waste fruits and vegetables, you are returning nutrients to the environment without the use of fertilizers. Thirdly, the amount of water used is minimal if one uses drip irrigation. Lastly, you are maintaining more biodiversity by having a garden and a variety of fruits and vegetables.
3. According to the video, one can grow a variety of fruits and vegetables in Northern California except for pineapples which I will explain later. The Bay Area’s Mediterranean climate allows for a great diversity of plants. Tomatoes, grapefruit, blueberries, apples, carrots, lettuce are some of the fruits/vegetables being grown here.
1. Depending on where you live, plants and vegetables can be grown both indoors and outdoors. There are outdoor gardens, greenhouses, planter boxes, etc. Indoors, certain plants such as basil can be grown. Tomatoes can also be grown indoors.
2. Fruit and vegetable waste can become compost which will further enhance your garden.
3. In terms of an ecological footprint, the omnivore will have the largest footprint because of the amount of meat that is eaten. The amount of energy and land needed to grow meat is huge. For example, raising cows for beef is quite costly in terms of the energy it takes to produce the feed. A vegan has the lowest ecological footprint because he/she does not consume animal products such as eggs and cheese. Animal products do leave an impact on the environment. A vegetarian by definition will still eat eggs and cheese and drink milk. All of which still comes from an animal.
1. Pineapples cannot be grown in N. California because of our climate. Pineapples need a moist, tropical environment which is why our pineapples come from Hawaii. Bananas also cannot be grown in N. California.
2. In order to start a garden in the front yard shown above, one needs to ask an important question, “How much?” and “How hard do I want to work?” One can still have grass and have planter boxes where herbs and tomatoes can be grown. However, to get the full effect, one can remove the grass and start planting on the ground after it has been worked on, namely, nutrients added to it. Hopefully, this is from composted materials.
3. The ecological benefit of having a fruit/vegetable garden is many folds. Many different species of birds will start hanging out in the garden because of the food that is available. That may not be what you want but it is what you get. Also, there will be more insects because they see the nectar from fruiting plants and therefore there will be pollination. Lastly, there may be some unwanted “pests” (at least in my backyard) such as gophers. Bottom line, it creates biodiversity and that’s what we want amidst the “concrete” or “asphalt” jungle in which we live in.
ADDITIONAL TOPICS AND LEARNING EXPERIENCES
1. Start planting in your classroom. This can be a very valuable experience. For myself, I definitely do not have a “green thumb” so I started with easy to grow plants like beans. For elementary school students, this is a perfect lesson in observation. Students can observe their plants from day 1 and observe and record their growth each day. For high school students, I would again start with the beans and make it part of the curriculum in biology and or environmental science where again students are asked to make observations. For this age group, students can also manipulate certain abiotic factors (pH, light, etc.).
2. If you have the time and energy, start a garden. I am still not there yet. For an elementary school, a garden may just be a planter box in the playground. The lessons here are many. One can have math, science, English language arts, social studies, art, etc. incorporated into building a garden. For example, composting is an awesome lesson enjoyed by all and its effects are visible to all children. For the high schools because there is more space, a garden is possible or even greenhouses. For example, the High School for Environmental Studies in New York City maintains their own rooftop garden. Once again, the lessons are many. Students can incorporate economics into their lessons as they can sell their food at local farmers’ markets.
3. Lastly, students can keep a food journal. I have my students keep a food journal for a month where they record everything they eat and their daily calorie intake if possible. There are also online food journal programs that allow you to record your daily diet and its calories. This is a very powerful tool because it shows the students their ecological footprint. Students who eat more processed or fast foods are quick to realize the caloric impact of their diets since calorie counts of fast food meals are required by law in California. For out of the box foods, caloric intakes are on the labels. This leads to a discussion of how to eat more healthily thereby reducing each student’s ecological footprint.
ADDITIONAL NOTES AND RESOURCES
Linked are some of the notes I have used with my students regarding food and farming. There are for my AP Environmental Science students so some modification may be needed for different levels.
3. The Omnivore’s Dilemma is a great book/resource that shows where your food comes from. Download the PDF.
Credit: This teacher resource has been adapted from content originally developed by Chung Khong.