40 Percent Of Russia’s Food Is From Dacha Gardens: This Is What The GMO Megacorps Don’t Want You To Know

40-Percent of Russia's Food Is From Dacha Gardens
40 Percent Of Russia’s Food Is From Dacha Gardens: This Is What The GMO Megacorps Don’t Want You To Know. Photo – http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=r1qK2IJMJ44

While most people in the Western world are completely reliant on large corporate agribusiness enterprises, many Russians feed themselves by growing vegetables and fruits in dacha gardens, which supply an astonishing 40% of the country’s food. Russia is an industrialized country that is larger than the U.S. but grows about half of its total food production in home gardens in a difficult and short-season climate. These dacha gardens are proof of the viability of small-scale sustainable agriculture as a genuine alternative to the highly criticized industrial farming model.

Dacha gardening has been feeding the Russian people for a millennium. It started as simple, independent “survival gardening” and has evolved into a self-provisioning model between the Bolshevik Revolution and World War II.

One-third of the Russian population owns a dacha. There are about one million dachas in the Moscow region alone. A typical dacha has a garden plot with a cabin. With a size of 600 square meters or 0.15 acres, dachas were originally intended as recreation getaways of city dwellers and as small gardens for food. Some dacha plots are over 1,200 to 1,500 square meters, but no property exceeds 2.4 acres or almost one hectare.

Growing one’s own food supplies is a habit that has fed the Russian nation for centuries. Russians pride themselves on the desire to grow their own food. This passion has contributed immensely to the sustainability of Russian agriculture.

Despite the mass urbanization and industrialization of the past century, many Russians still migrate to their rural kitchen gardens to grow and harvest fruits and vegetables. The most common dacha fruits and vegetables in cool temperate regions of Russia include apple, blackcurrant, gooseberry, strawberry, plum, pear, grape, potato, cucumber, zucchini, pumpkin, tomato, carrot, cauliflower, radish, turnip, onion, garlic, and parsley.

According to 2011 data from the Russian Statistics Service, dacha gardens produced over 80% of the country’s fruits and berries, over 66% of the vegetables, and almost 80% of the potatoes. Dacha communities also supplied 50% of the nation’s milk, much of it consumed raw. However these figures could be a little higher as they don’t include food that was foraged; for example berries and nuts gathered from the wild.

Dacha gardening or self-provisioning gardening played an important role in the early 1990s after the collapse of the Soviet bloc. When the heavily subsidized commercial agriculture collapsed with the demise of the USSR, dacha gardens survived and were the main reason why the Russian people did not experience a famine during the period. To put this in modern parlance, the distributed architecture of their farming system made it robust.

Key to the success of the Russian mindset is the sharing of surplus food. Dacha communities would share their excess food out of sense of abundance or plenty. This system of sharing resulted in a resilient food network that is sustainable.

Another important aspect of this system is seed saving. Check out our giant database of heirloom seed suppliers.

Russian household agriculture can claim itself as the most extensive system of successful food production of any industrial nation. Dacha gardening shows the possibility of highly centralized, small-scale food production.

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