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Self-sufficiency through gardening

By Brooke Brown

Gallon-sized tin cans stocked with dehydrated potatoes and wheat germ are the usual images associated with emergency preparedness.

But basic, bland food storage isn’t the only way to answering the prophet’s call to be ready for disaster, whether physical, economic or spiritual.

In Doctrine and Covenants (D&C) 109:8, the prophet Joseph Smith instructs the Saints to organize themselves and “prepare every needful thing” with a house of order.

Likewise, Joseph Smith and succeeding prophets have preached self-sufficiency, with the Church organization of Bishops’ Storehouse and fast offerings as a model.

So Saints throughout the world are heeding the prophet’s counsel using an alternative approach — one that encourages self-sufficiency in quite literal terms of old-fashioned home gardening.

The idea is nothing new; The 1982 Children’s Songbook favorite by Thelma McKinnon Anderson recites, “The prophet said to plant a garden/So that’s what we’ll do.”

Still, members of the Church have found resurging interest in gardening, as food writers like Michael Pollan and scientific researchers uncover increasing contamination and health detriments in grocery store fruits and vegetables.

Other advocates of locally grown foods argue that eating local produce reduces energy waste, and increases nutrients by allowing consumers to eat foods at peak levels of ripeness.

In her New York Time’s bestselling non-fiction book “Animal, Vegetable, Miracle,” Barbara Kingsolver preaches to eat local, sustainable foods.

“Getting to know your own food chain is neighborly and it’s healthy,” Kingsolver said in a recent interview with Steve Curwood. “It keeps your money in your own community and it keeps the land around you a little more green.”

This new media cry for eating seasonal produce from personal gardens or farmer’s markets has been taught to LDS church members since Joseph Smith revealed the Word of Wisdom.

D&C 89:11 states, “Every herb in the season thereof, and every fruit in the season thereof; all these to be used with prudence and thanksgiving.”

Members of the Northwood Ward, Logan Utah Cache Stake, recently followed this guidance by initiating a project to develop food self-sufficiency through gardening.

The emergency preparedness committee and forty ward members met to package more than 39 seed varieties to distribute throughout the community, and plans to continue instructing members on gardening techniques.

Even younger, single LDS church members are developing an interest in gardening, though they have fewer mouths to feed.

Alpha Smoot, a single 23-year-old from Provo, grew her first garden and raised chickens in her backyard last summer.

The recent BYU graduate said she loves the process of food production and knowing that she is in control of what enters her body.

“There is something that feels so complete about having a garden,” Smoot said. “It felt like a small circle of life in my own backyard.”

Smoot said it is hard for her to buy produce at the grocery store now that she knows the quality and freshness of her homegrown vegetables.

Certainly, the process required hard work — Smoot fed her chickens scraps from the garden, used their droppings as compost for her plants, and refrained from pesticides on her garden.

But as L.Tom Perry said in his May 2001 “Ensign” address, hard work is on of the foundations to our economic welfare.

And Smoot testifies that the literal fruits of her labor were well worth the effort.

“There’s just something nice about having everything be useful,” Smoot said.

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