She invited me inside to get a closer look.
|The yellow thing in the foreground is a sticky trap for monitoring and control of insect pests.
Battle Creek, Michigan
Battle Creek is the center of America's breakfast food industry. Before that, it was the center of a vast number of "sanitariums" that focused on nutrition and health. The idea was radical: Replace the "aspirational" breakfast of 6 fried eggs, half pound of fried potatoes, half pound of fried sausage and four slices of white bread saturated with butter with a breakfast based on cereals and and other foods of plant origin.
A large number of Seventh Day Adventists settled in Battle Creek. Even today, Seventh Day Adventists are known for their robust good health and their longevity. The Seventh Day Adventists in Loma Linda, California have been tagged as a "Blue Zone" for the large number of people who live beyond the age of 100. The city of Battle Creek still benefits from their influence.
So maybe it is not surprising that Leila Arboretum is energetic in its mission of supplying the locals with good food. They may not have enough greenhouse to move the needle for the general populace. But they can provide some excellent food and serve as a template for others to copy.
|Spinach. The beds are fortified with compost made on-site.
|One of the hybrid red Pac Choi. Red Pac Choi is elegant but the red pigment reduces the efficiency of the plant as it intercepts light.
|Fennel. Man does not live by brassicas along. Sometimes he/she needs flavor! The gardeners allowed this volunteer fennel plant to live, even though it was in the middle of a walkway.
|This borage plant was also allowed to live, for much the same reason.
|Artisan Swiss Chard. Swiss Chard is a form of beets that has been selected for their lush leaves.
|This one Swiss Chard plant has an interesting form. I wonder if it has any advantage since winter gardening is all about intercepting light.
|They even deliver.
You can see where the money goes. Trickle irrigation line is not cheap. Neither is a reliable delivery van. For now, their major market is "boutiquey". That is very OK. Folks are more willing to try new things when they think the 0.1% is trying to stop them.
And then they told me...
That the greenhouse is just the tip of the iceberg (pun intended).
|They also have a community garden.
If you study the picture you will see a variety of crops, including season extenders like brassicas (left, foreground) and a multitude of structures (trellises) to intercept the light that would otherwise be wasted on walkways. Trellises are beneficial in community gardens. They are almost mandatory in narrow city lots where vegetables must stretch upward to capture sunlight.
Again, this half acre will not feed a city. But it keeps the technology alive and can serve as a genesis bomb should the need arise to grow more food locally or should more people desire higher quality, more flavorful, more nutritious food.