Global Gardening by Hank Bruce & Tomi Jill Folk, M. Div.

The Half Hectare Homestead copy of Global Gardening


Global Gardening is a decently sized book that begins with a thought-provoking and introspective look at how colonialism, industrialization, and cultural ideologies have affected food production worldwide. This includes how indigenous food skills and knowledge have overarching global similarities. They included the fermentation of foods, beers, wines, and the cultivation of flowers.

It then dives into a hearty compilation of various crops suitable for relatively global cultivation. There’s a ranking system that details aspects like continuous harvest, ease of cultivation, suitability for ornamental planting, and more.

It finishes with an informative section on the multitude of causes of poverty of the land and peoples living there and some ideas for mindful social action. Instead of a one-size-fits-all approach, the authors stress that by working with others in the global community. Instead of blindly attempting to help without consideration and feedback from those that are receiving help, we can affect a greater solution to the specific problems.

They also remind the reader that their actions affect the global community and by acting locally, namely growing your own food and sharing it within your community, we can begin to truly help the global community.

What I Learned from Global Gardening

Some facts mentioned in the book really struck me. (This book was published in 2001, so some of these numbers will have changed.)

-32% of the world’s population lives on less than $1 a day.

-The poorest 20% use less than 1% of the world’s resources while the richest 20% use over 80%. 

-1 in 5 children and 1 in 5 seniors in America suffer malnutrition.

The Thing I Found Most Interesting and Why

Unlike most compilations of plants, the authors have personal experience with the majority of them. They make note of when they don’t. They include historical uses, traditional preparation methods, and even growing information. The categories are broad and include a sampling from more than a country or two.

What I Didn’t Like

Although they do a good job calling out the colonial mindset and misguided “help” that focuses more on an ego boost than genuine utility to the “helped”, their resources rely rather heavily on missionary or religious organizations that tend to have those same qualities. 

Final Thoughts on Global Gardening

The book is an inclusive, informative compilation of the botanical and culinary diversity of the global community. It includes a call for peace and cooperation by encouraging the reader to grow and share food and knowledge with the global community.

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