Publisher’s Corner

Urban Farming, Lanterns and Our Next Expo

Everyone is talking about urban farming these days and with good reason. Whether it’s creating neighborhood gardens in the “food deserts” of our inner cities, or the modest suburban vegetable garden, “home-grown” has benefits beyond measure. I figure there must be some farmer in my genealogy because I love to grow things. I have given up on the larger, more impressive vegetable garden since the rabbits and squirrels usually take more than their fair share every year. So this season I bought one tomato plant. With the growing season starting earlier this year, I was able to get it in the ground ahead of schedule and with the help of a neighbor’s bees, I began getting plenty of pollinated blooms and fruit. Last year I got blooms but no fruit. Perhaps a combination of weather and not so busy bees. But this season my solitary tomato plant is prolific. And the squirrels and bunnies have not come around. I suppose our Border Collie and Dachshund-Lab mix have done a good job patrolling the north 40. (okay the north 1/8 acre). Regardless, my little organic tomato patch has already paid for itself in bounty, and I count at least 8 more tomatoes ripening as we speak. So I understand the pride felt by urban farmers who might be growing for themselves, neighbors, friends and family. I think we all have farmer genes. (genes not jeans). We all have a love for the earth. I love to smell the dirt. I love to rub a tomato plant leaf and smell the aroma of its essence. So I understand the feeling of pride and accomplishment one tomato plant can bring. Can you imagine the feeling a farmer gets when he/she looks out over a field of winter wheat or silky corn stalks? If there is not dirt under your fingernails, I suggest touching the earth today… and it will touch you back.

My wife Niki and I recently visited the Lantern Festival at Missouri Botanical Garden. As if the Garden is not beautiful enough, the Lantern Festival offers a brilliant display of color and Chinese heritage that is visually stunning and bursting with design and pageantry. We have been to the Garden countless times, and it amazes me how well the staff handles these great events like the Lantern Festival or the Chihuly display. The Lantern Festival only runs through Aug. 19 so I suggest you hurry down to see it. And make sure you toss a token on the wishing tree. It could create a dream come true.

Just a quick note to remind everyone that our next Expo is coming up October 14 at the Webster Groves Recreation Complex. This year we have some great sponsors including Chipotle Mexican Grill, St. Louis Composting and St. Louis Aquatic Healing Center. There will be free health screenings, plenty of samples and giveaways, and numerous products and services that will help make your life healthier and more sustainable. Mark your calendars now and look for discount admission coupons in the August, September and October issues of The Healthy Planet magazine. See you there!

J.B. Lester; Publisher