Be Green 2: So you want to make an organic garden?

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Organic – that’s the buzz word when it comes to farming or gardening.

But is it possible to grow an organic garden at your house?

We went to an organic farm plot near the UH Manoa campus to find out. The first thing we learned is, organic produce and vegetables are not NECESSARILY in and of themselves healthier for you.

“People often want to believe that it might be healthier for themselves and in some cases, it is. But the real concept behind it and the real motivation for the whole industry or for the start of it was – what’s happening on the farm, what’s happening with the environmental impacts of those farming systems in the location where it’s being cultivated,” says organic farm expert Gabriel Sachter-Smith.

The environment is important – for example, you might want to grow big tomatoes – or beets.

“But the reality is, we’re in the tropics. And not everything that is in those typical diets grow easy here – and so to keep those things growing, it might be a lot more challenging which is why sometimes, pesticides or herbicides or other supports are needed,” Sachter-Smith says.

This may come as news to amateur gardeners – there are organic and non-organic pesticides. Sachter-Smith stresses even a backyard garden takes a long term commitment and asking questions. For example, what about soil nutrients?

“As far as nutrients go, those can come from either organic or non-organic sources. The end result to the plant is the same, but the main difference between organic and inorganic fertilizers and their effect on your garden, is what’s happening to the soil over the long term,” he says.

And again, it’s possible to grow almost anything here – if you are persistent and take advantage of expert opinion. Conveniently, that will be available this Saturday.

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