Ashleigh Belding, MPH
Me, Nine Months Pregnant with my Watermelon
Hi, my name is Ashleigh, and I live with my family of four in West Sacramento, CA. We grow our groceries in the middle of suburbia: seasonal veggies, proteins like egg and peanut, florals, herbal remedies, fermented food...you name it. We are not experts, but we strive for excellence. Can you do the same? Absolutely. I started out with grass, a dream and no money. If that's all you have, then you are in the right place. My new guide From Lawns to Food is coming soon!
If you don't have grass...or even a yard....but still want to learn about growing food, you are absolutely in the right place! It wasn't that long ago I had a tiny, shaded apartment balcony. I know the hesitance you might be experiencing. There's a place for you here. You are planning for your abundant future, starting with decisions right where you are planted.
I live in the "Farm-to-Fork Capital" (Sacramento CA).....
.....But I kinda feel like that movement is just out of reach for anyone outside the city center. As 50% of America lives in the suburbs...in apartments, condos, trailers, tract homes, townhomes and gated communities...and yes, even homeless camps...I kind of get the feeling we all wish we could benefit from better food sources no matter where we live. But we get stuck. We are told its too expensive. We are told not to give to people in need. We get sucked into commercialized marketing around processed food. We don't have time for anything other than "hustle". We erroneously compare ourselves to others. There are no supplies or tools in our drawers, garages or backpacks. We may experience institutionalized barriers to land and food access. Maybe we just don't like to cook or to be dirty.
Facts. We can't all have 5 acres, we don't all own property, grocers are rapidly disappearing in the age of Amazon Prime. But we have our own two hands. And spirit. And grit. And ownership over our decisions. That's what it's going to take to get to the other side. And once we realize our own potential, we can gather up like a sponge, collect little drops of it with other people, and leverage our abundance in service of others. Farm to EVERY fork.
That's what I aim to improve through self-efficacy: developing one's skills and abilities......and developing a mindset of abundance and sharing. This is where I am documenting our successes and failures with local food and growing edibles. I share small-space growing (patios, balconies, indoors). I share our simple, minimalist approach to meal prep and planning, a skill that anyone with a sink, cutting board, fridge and knife can do.
More about me:
I am a practicing public health scientist at UC Davis where my work is connected to food access, social responsibility and evidence-based policy creation. After a series of illnesses, I found growing and cooking our own food was one of the safest ways to eat and to manage symptoms. I go into more detail about my health and wellness story here.
We do our best to shop locally & grow some of our own food
We use mainly plant-based and whole foods as the family diet
We make gut-healing probiotics via kitchen fermentation, an easy and affordable alternative to store-bought remedies
We aim to fully retrofit our small lot (7000 sq ft) into a prolific food-producing oasis using permaculture techniques
My hope is that we inspire others to learn how to grow things in the space they have: On a balcony, in the garage, in the yard, or on their countertop. We may not all have the land to grow everything we eat, but we can learn to grow something, cook seasonally, and share our abundance with others. We don't have to be dependent on the current systems which serves the few over the many.