Dude, Grow Something

flickr photo shared by John Fera under a Creative Commons ( BY-NC-ND ) license


Globalization has increased our interdependence in all dimensions of life and food is a prime example of this phenomenon. Years ago, and still today for many developing regions, self-sufficient, organic farming with a big variety of local crops farming is a common practice. But more recently, with the rapid increase in population growth, this has shifted dramatically. In order to feed the masses, large corporations employed techniques of monoculture; this resulted in lower food prices (with the help of unsustainable government subsidies) which consequently made it very difficult for small farmers to remain financially viable. A great deal of our food production has shifted to countries or regions where there are lower land and labour costs. Not only has widespread monoculture through intensive use of pesticides compromised the quality of our soil, food and the fair treatment of people producing it, but also, the day to day reality of this wider global food production system is that we have lost the connection to our food, where it comes from, how to grow it, thus many young people are unaware of what many fruit, vegetables and herbs look like! The question is… If for some reason you needed to, could you grow your own food to survive? In this activity the participants will experience growing their own food. The participants will eventually prepare a meal with their ingredients. This will bring awareness to the time and resources involved in food production.

Activity Type



30 minutes + 8 weeks to harvest!

Learning Outcomes

  • To connect with where your food comes from

  • To have a practical experience of growing your own food

  • To understand the benefits of polyculture



Required Materials and Tools:

  • Seeds from whatever plants you want to grow.

  • Containers to grow plants.

Step-by-Step Instructions:

  1. Find somebody in your local area that has a garden. Ask if the person could show you how to grow something that you can take home and grow it alone.  

  2. Make an appointment and bring any materials needed.

  3. With support and guidance from the gardener, plant some things in containers that you will be able to take home.

  4. Observe the process of growing and don’t forget to harvest and mindfully eat your crops.


Required Materials and Tools:

  • Lettuce seeds, Garlic bulbs, baking soda, Mature compost, All-purpose fertilizer, Seed tray, Spade, Shovel, Garden fork, Organic mulch, Water.

Step-by-Step Instructions:

This is an invitation to employ a ‘companion planting’ technique, using lettuce and garlic. Garlic acts as a non-toxic pesticide for the garden. It has natural fungicidal and pesticidal properties that work effectively to control pests and works especially well when planted with lettuce.

  1. Participants will grow the lettuce initially inside. The temperatures should ideally be between 15°C to 20°C. Ask the participants to sow the seeds 1/4-inch deep in a seed tray filled with potting mix. They should water well so the soil is moist.

  2. When the seedlings are about 3 to 4 inches tall, they can be transplanted outdoors. Before transplanting the seedlings, participants should strengthen them by taking the seed tray outdoors. Keep them in a sheltered location for a few days. This will prevent transplant shock. Then find a communal space outside for the participants to transplant their lettuce and plant their garlic. Head lettuce needs a separation of 12 inches between plants, whereas butterhead lettuce needs 8 or 9 inches and leaf lettuce needs about 5 to 6 inches. Transplant the seedlings. After two weeks, lettuce seedlings will appear.

  3. Participants should break a garlic bulb apart into individual cloves, being careful to keep the papery skins covering each clove intact. Then fill a quart jar with water and mix in 1 tablespoon of baking soda and 1 tablespoon of liquid seaweed (available at your local garden store). Soak the cloves in this mixture for 2 hours prior to planting to prevent fungal disease and encourage vigorous growth.

  4. Garlic grows best in rich, well-drained soil that is free of weeds. Dig a furrow about 3 inches deep. Place the pre-soaked cloves into the furrow, spacing them 6 to 8 inches apart. Be sure the flat root end is down and the pointy end is up.

  5. Cover the cloves with 2 inches of soil and side-dress the furrow with compost or scratch in granulated organic fertilizer. Water the bed in well and cover it with 6 to 8 inches of straw mulch.

  6. You should see shoots poking through the mulch in 4 to 6 weeks. The garlic stops growing in the winter months and resumes in spring.

  7. Lettuce needs the right amount of water. The correct way to water lettuce plants is to provide small quantities at regular intervals and to avoid too much or too little watering. Harvest the lettuce 8 or 9 weeks after planting. Avoid letting the lettuce becoming over-ripe because it will develop a bitter taste.



  1. Was this your first experience of growing something?

  2. How did it feel to grow your own food?

  3. Did you learn anything you previously did not know?

  4. In what ways is this method of growing food more sustainable?

Instructions for Submission

Upload a picture of what you have grown and submit a short summary of the experience. Instructions on how to upload photos and how to submit things in Moodle can be found here: Instructions on Submission&Uploading

Instructions for Assessment

Provide feedback to at least one participant that has done this activity. Instructions on providing feedback can be found here: Instructions on Feedback

Related Topics

  • Permaculture

  • Polyculture

  • Monoculture

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