Image credit: Sami Grover (the tomato!), and The Seedbank (with help from CBay on photoshop).
I was in a local gardening shop the other day that specializes in hydroponics. I noticed that many of the plant foods and other products were being marketed to, shall we say, a certain herbalist demographic. (Don't ask me how I know - I just do.) Yet much of the interest on TreeHugger around this subject relates, on the surface at least, to hydroponics for growing your own food, hydroponic rooftop agriculture, backyard aquaponics - even commercial scale aquaponics. So this got me wondering - could illicit cultivation of marijuana be used to excite folks about growing food to feed the world? I'm not talking about the large, organized crime type growers here - which tend, I think, to be in it for the profit (although perhaps they should find jobs with big agribusiness?!). But rather your average domestic grower of a few plants. After all, growing illegal plants in illicit conditions requires a stealth and ingenuity that could prove useful as we try to figure out how to reintegrate food production into our everyday environments.
And isn't it possible that cultivators initially drawn to the allure of their drug of choice, might actually get the bug for growing plants in general? I've met more than one former pot head who has long since left the funny weed behind, but still has a love for the gifts of nature - and some serious horticultural knowledge to show for their past. (I've met others who have no intention of leaving it behind - and they are pretty good gardeners too. They just tend to get up later in the day...)
I'm wary of getting too far into the rights and wrongs of current marijuana laws here (I learned my lesson discussing the environmental impact of cocaine), but as long as people are being arrested for small scale cultivation, maybe there is a way to direct their interests toward legal pursuits. Maybe folks could receive reduced sentences or pardons if they volunteer for urban community farms? Maybe confiscated equipment could be used for vocational training/aquaponic farms in prisons? Or maybe we just leave the gardeners of this world alone to do what they do - but as I said, I don't want to get into that discussion.
Any former herbal growers out there who care to tell us about their tomato plants? You don't have to use your real name...