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Natural Awakenings Naples and Fort Myers

March 2012 Publisher's Letter

I fondly remember a special trip across the country to my native state of Michigan after living in Colorado for a few months. I was in my 20s, happily driving along, talking to the beautiful avocado plant strapped into the passenger seat next to me. I had grown attached to that little plant, which I had started from a seed. I loved witnessing its simple, yet miraculous journey of life.

As part of my recent decision to try a vegetarian diet, I was not only exploring healthier foods, I also had a budding love affair with planting, tending and watching plants grow. A friend had shown me how to stick three evenly spaced toothpicks into the sides of the seed to hang part of it in enough water to encourage sprouting until it was ready to plant. Once potted in soil, I moved it around the house all through the cold winter months so it could catch enough sunlight to thrive.

I realize now that if that journey had instead taken me to Florida, my avocado plant would have had a chance to reach its full potential, and today I might be sharing an abundance of green goodness from a mature tree with its own offspring. I did later move to the Sunshine State, and finally have my very own young avocado tree, happily growing in the back yard.

What took me so long? Over the years, I have planted and nurtured growing things wherever I’ve put roots down long enough to do so, and the front yard jungle that hides my home from passersby is a testament to my penchant for plant therapy. My project to grow as much of my own food as possible in the backyard is also underway.

In this month’s Green Living department, “Unconventional Gardens,” you’ll find how widespread interest in backyard, rooftop and community gardens is increasing people’s access to fresh local foods, while affording opportunities to connect with Mother Earth.

Green spaces are replacing vacant lots and lawns with edible perennials and seasonal crops, so that people can eat better and fresher and reduce the family food bill. “Food plants can be grown anywhere, including on a high-rise balcony, miles from the nearest farm”, explains David Tracey, author of Urban Agriculture: Ideas and Designs for the New Food Revolution.

You’ll also find plenty of evidence in this March special Food & Garden edition on why eating a plant-based diet is better for your health. Several people I know have made life-changing decisions about their eating habits after watching the documentary film, Forks Over Knives.

As for my own food choices, I like to feel good, so it’s simple. I just choose the foods that energize me and support my health. Discovering what foods those are has required a journey of a lifetime for me. That’s why we’ve packed this issue with ideas to help you make your own good eating journey easier.

Here’s to feeling good,