Spinach, butter lettuce, and kale—oh my! The crunchy sound of our favorite leafy greens provides an impressionable feeling as they graze our pallets with each refreshing bite. Garden varieties (pun quite intended!) dance their way into our homes as summer is in full swing. Each year, salad greens make a comeback. With vibrance and versatility, we find our lettuce varieties gracefully placed upon our plates with a complementary vinaigrette, or classic Caesar — perhaps we go wild with kale. Whether a main dish or side garnish, leafy greens help rejuvenate and restore our energy and life force. Nutrients such as Vitamin K, Vitamin A, Vitamin C, B6, Folate, and Iron can all be found in these delicate and simple beauties.
Seasonal shifts often call for body cleanses and more attention to nutritional care. Nutrient-packed juicing also allows our leafy green friends to inter-mingle with other herbs and vegetable varieties such as carrots, cucumbers, celery, or beets — to name a few. The kale-apple-parsley-and-lime favorite combo or simple carrot juice straight-up, are sure ways to liven the senses and uplift our cells. Sourcing local ingredients from community gardens, community-supported agriculture (CSAs) and sustainable farms provides fresher ingredients and promotes an improved carbon footprint. In other words, our greens get greener. Still following?
The farm-to-table movement has helped farmers, community, and urban gardeners alike come together. As they dig their fingers into rich soil to cultivate high quality, patrons receive access to fresh and local ingredients. Growers carefully consider nutrients for these precious ecosystems, with heavy consideration for water sources and sunlight exposure. Local community gardens offer the opportunity for individuals or families to grow their own food by reserving a plot with little investment. Volunteering can also help cover the cost, creating a community approach. Options usually begin with a 10x10 foot plot and only gets larger from there. When gardens receive additional funding, they step up their operation by investing in renewable energy sources, which pays for the energy cost, over time and improves carbon reduction.
Vegetable and fruit growers consider each variable, focusing on precision within their operation. They determine:
The overarching “green” theme offers the opportunity to harness natural occurring energy through wind power technology, solar energy or hydro-electric power to run a sustainable operation.
In recent years, schools and universities have incorporated community garden projects into their curriculum, powered by renewable energy sources. In 2018, M.L. Wisdom High School in Houston, Texas, installed their first solar-powered school garden. Their operation was unique, as they also installed a clean-water system, capturing vapor from the air and converting it to liquid from the power of the sun’s energy. In the case of Hollin Meadows Elementary School in Alexandria, Virginia, the school secured funding through a partnership for a solar-powered drip-irrigation system for 20 raised beds. The 2019 project allowed the school to further its education to students, while teaching them about sustainability and the impacts on growing fresh produce with the help of green energy.
Circling back to our salad greens, when we begin to gain a greater sense of where our food is sourced and components involved, it provides a greater perspective on the fresh foods we so love to enjoy. Our appreciation is heightened, and so is our awareness of ecological responsibility and contribution. But even more important, it gets us thinking! It begs the question, “How can we be a bit more conscious about our greens — and can they get any more green?” The proof is in, well… the greens.
Sources: Wisdom Chronicle; Hollin Meadows Partnership for Outdoor Education
Jessica Dusek is a Northwest native, passionate about sustainability and renewable energy. From experience in horticulture working for the cutting-edge greenhouse technology manufacturer of Solexx, near Portland, Oregon, to roles at NRG and Tesla, she gained insight into effective carbon and cost-reduction solutions. Jessica holds her Master’s in Business Administration from Willamette University, as well as a Bachelor’s in Communication from the University of Montana. She has served as Master of Ceremonies and a panelist on the Women’s Forum at the Austin Solar Business Festival, and is a TEPA Certified Energy Professional in Austin, Texas.