Happy Planting: Grow a Non-GMO Garden!

April 22, 2014

Happy Earth Day!

One of the most rewarding ways to eat non-GMO and the best way to know exactly where your food comes from is to grow your own food. Many of us here at the Non-GMO Project are avid gardeners, from large permaculture homesteads to square foot gardens in tiny yards in town to sprouting seeds on our kitchen counters! Keep reading for tips from us about how to grow your own non-GMO garden.

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1. First things first: know your GMO-risk crops. Review a complete list of all commercially-available GMO crops on our website. Sweet corn, zucchini, yellow summer squash, beets and alfalfa (for sprouts or hay) are the ones most likely to turn up in your garden. Hybrids and heirloom plants are not GMOs, so you don’t have to worry about those unusually striped tomatoes or those purple carrots!

2. A good garden starts with good seeds. While there is no seed company at this time with a completely Non-GMO Project Verified line of seeds, we highly recommend High Mowing Seeds. They are actively working on Verifying their seeds; they have exacting standards for traceability and segregation; and they have a very strong non-GMO commitment. Plus, they are family-owned! You can see the company’s full list of Verified seeds in our product listing. A few other seed companies have strong non-GMO commitments, including: Baker Creek, Seed Savers, and Uprising Seeds.

It’s important to make sure our seeds are not GMO, but the next step is to ensure they are not bought from a company involved in genetic engineering. For instance, many seed companies are either owned by Monsanto or purchase seeds from companies owned by Monsanto and other biotech companies. For you gardeners who may also be interested in making this level of commitment, check out Who Owns Your Seed or Catalog Company , and refer to this handy chart showing seed industry structure (unfortunately, biotech companies own a lot of seed companies!). There is also a handy listing of seed companies who have taken the “Safe Seed Pledge.” It is important we support seed companies that are committed to the principles of preserving a safer and healthier food supply for future generations.

3. When buying starts, look for organic and ask your nursery about GMOs. For starts or larger plants, we recommend choosing an organic nursery and asking the staff where the seeds come from. If you read up on the list of high-risk plants and avoid them or make sure they came from non-GMO starts, then you should be good to go.

4. Choose organic compost and soil. What you grow your plants in makes a difference! If you are careful to avoid chemicals in your garden, make sure you aren’t unknowingly planting in chemically contaminated soil. If you buy soils, choose organic and talk with your retailer about where it comes from. This will help you know exactly what you are–and aren’t–getting.

5. Talk to your local organic nursery. For help finding additives you may need, such as natural fertilizer or help with pest problems, employees at your local nursery are expert resources about your climate, which varietals to select, how to handle pests, and able to provide other great advice for your garden.

 

279804_10150223195786791_8185089_o Dede in Garden
Isabel: As a child, my mother showed my sister and me how to care for plants. We loved eating cherry tomatoes and sugar snap peas right off the vine. Now, my whole backyard is a large organic garden where my family and I spend hours weeding, planting, watering, slug-hunting and, best of all, eating all summer long! Dede: I began gardening in the 70’s when my daughter was born. The best way for me to ensure I was getting the freshest, healthiest food not laden with pesticides or chemical fertilizers was to grow my own whenever possible. I have been gardening now for more than 25 years. 
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Courtney and Megan: Away from the office, we are both passionate about growing and preparing wholesome, delicious food. On our respective homesteads in Northwest Washington State, we grow as much of our own food as possible. Vegetables from organic seeds and eggs from our chickens—raised on Non-GMO Project Verified feed—are staples in our diets, as are simple ingredients from our local farmers’ markets and co-op.

 

You may already realize how critical a non-GMO diet is to the health of our planet—if so, good for you! Or you may be new to this issue and just starting to learn about all of the ways that genetically modified organisms (GMOs) threaten our soil, water, animals, insects and ecosystem at large. Either way, here at the Non-GMO Project, we want to help you deepen your commitment to a non-GMO future. That’s why we created the Non-GMO Challenge for Earth Month. The Challenge is an action-oriented platform that offers education, inspiration and rewards for choosing non-GMO, whether it’s for one meal or for the entire month. Over the next few days we’ll be sharing some of the ways that Non-GMO Project staff are stepping up for the Non-GMO Challenge. We hope you’ll join us!