his seventies, leads us into the
forest. Every few hundred yards
he stops and points out an edible
palm, fruit, or nut tree. “Es his-torico,” he insists, because it pro-
vided food during “la epoca guerrilla.” One palm yields cooking oil, and
another tree produces nuts that can be
roasted and ground into ?our. The jungle
served as the guerrillas’ home for many
years, providing food, shelter, and safety,
and it is doing so again.
The revolution of Nuevo Horizonte is
no longer being fought with guns, but
with education, sustainability, and the
integrity of the natural and human community. “The >ght is not over,” Tono says.
— Greg Gordon
Pedal People troll our streets almost every
day, bicycling not for play but for work.
They tow six- and eight-foot trailers behind
their bikes, each stacked with eight plastic
containers roughly the size of recycling
bins, and collect neighborhood garbage
and recycling to haul to the local transfer
station. The program is popular enough
that on some streets the garbage truck
need visit only a single address or two—
leaving the rest of trash collection to a bicycle quietly rolling from house to house.
Last year the Pedal People moved
beyond individual service and won a contract with the city to collect garbage from
downtown waste cans. Stores have begun
using them for local deliveries of furniture,
and residents can call on the trailers for
house moves within town (they can carry up
to three hundred pounds). Their website
( www.pedalpeople.com) boasts that they’ve
moved everything from cats to solar panels.
Six years into the business, the two
founders, Ruthy Woodring and Alex
Jarrett, have expanded their operation to a
cooperative of eleven, and now they’re
offering a new service: pickup of com-
postable material. If you can’t or don’t
want to compost yourself, you can leave a
bucket of scraps out with the garbage.
And for those who prefer the smell of cut
grass to mowers and blowers, they do gas-free, chemical-free yard care, with all
tools, including human-powered mowers,
brought by bicycle. It’s a message in
action: look what we can do gas-free.
Since signing up, my own household
has become much more conscious of how
much we throw out each week. It’s impossible not to be when we see the Pedal
People folks sweating in the summer and
toiling uphill through slush in the winter,
pulling the weight of everyone’s leavings.
FROM HANDOUTS TO HOW-TO
tucson, arizona—Everywhere you go
in America, prices are rising: of gas, goods,
and especially food. It’s getting tough for
many Americans, and even food banks are
having a hard time getting by—their prices
are rising, too. But at this time of economic
downturn, the Tucson Community Food
Bank ( www.communityfoodbank.com) is
demonstrating how long-term thinking
can solve food insecurity. The Food Bank
believes that gardening isn’t just a pastime
for the well-to-do, but that it’s an important
adaptation that anyone with access to a little space, water, and sunlight can make.
I recently attended a gardening workshop at the Tucson Community Food Bank.
The event took place in a beautiful seven-thousand-square-foot organic demonstration garden next to the Food Bank, in an
industrial part of town. The garden was
>lled with tomatoes, beans, chiles, and
other vegetables, proving that good food
can be grown anywhere. The chicken coop
was bustling with chickens eating garden scraps, and the compost pile stood off to the side, a
testament to e;cient “waste”
The workshop, this one in
English but they also offer them in
Spanish, taught the basics of how to start
your own garden, from picking the best
spot in your yard and selecting appropriate plants, to how to water e;ciently. We
learned how to compost kitchen scraps
and how to be more self-su;cient in general. And the program extends its reach
beyond the classroom walls. The Food
Bank gives away free compost to new gardeners until they can develop their own
supply, and even offers free on-site consultations; an expert will come to your
house to help you design a garden that
works for you. It also holds weekly farmers’ markets where fresh vegetables and
eggs can be purchased at affordable prices.
The Tucson Community Food Bank isn’t
just offering food, it’s offering good food.
The best part of these programs is that
they facilitate a shift in thinking from
handouts to how-to. By creating your own
garden and growing your own food, you
learn skills that improve your quality of life
while also improving your economic situation. Gardening at home reduces the need
for fossil-fuel-derived fertilizer and fuel for
transportation. And it builds community
too, since many gardeners end up sharing
their excess harvest with neighbors.
— Kyle Boelte
WHAT READERS SAY ABOUT
“Takes major causes—the
spiritual—and folds them
into one human cause.”