Plants Vs. Zombies

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Kuhn is a fierce advocate for food security.
Kuhn is a fierce advocate for food security.

Today we’re talking zombies and gardens. Shannon Kuhn is co-founder of the group Anchorage Food Mosaic, a collection of writers, food enthusiasts, and gardeners. One of the Mosaic’s goals is to encourage people to grow their own food, and Kuhn says there are plenty of reasons to try it out.

“For some it’s a form of therapy and relaxation after a stressful day at work, for some it’s a place to take their kids and for others it’s a way to build community. Community gardens are a great place to meet new people from across town and to share a common value,” says Kuhn.

But, Kuhn says, gardening doesn’t just make you happier and healthier. It’s a crucial task to keeping Alaskans prepared for natural disaster.

“Here in Anchorage we actually only have about a five day supply of food, seven at best on our grocery store shelves. So if a natural disaster hit and the port or other infrastructure was damaged, we would need to be self reliant. This is hugely important,” says Kuhn.

That may be hugely important to everyone, but Kuhn says one segment of the population hasn’t gotten the memo yet.

“The average age of a farmer is about 65, so young people really need to learn how to grow food, and we really need more young people to become farmers,” says Kuhn.

Kuhn thinks she’s discovered a way to get more young people thinking about farming: Gardening is a mandatory skill for the zombie apocalypse. Yes, that’s right, blood-thirsty brain-eating zombies. America, and specifically its youth love their zombies, and Kuhn thinks the fictional genre can get more people thinking about being self-sufficient.

“Even though it’s kind of a joke, I think it’s making people seriously consider how they’re going to be prepared if some major disaster strikes,” says Kuhn. And, if that major disaster does happen to be zombies, you’d be glad you had a garden.

“I know that zombies definitely wouldn’t eat your vegetables, so you wouldn’t have to worry about that,” says Kuhn. But, who’s actually going to go outside and pick carrots when there’s swarms of undead lurking about? Kuhn has an answer for that, too.

An artist's rendering of what the zombie threat may look like.
An artist’s rendering of what the zombie threat may look like.

“Another cool thing that has been popping up is this concept of living walls. So you can actually garden inside your own house. So once you’ve zombie-proofed your house you can create these living walls where you actually have vegetables and herbs that are growing up through a hydroponic system,” says Kuhn.

Of course, many Alaskans would have a hard time embracing a purely vegetarian diet, but Kuhn figures that would only increase your chances of surviving a zombie encounter.

“Definitely, they prefer those quarter-pounder humans,” says Kuhn.

Kuhn says it doesn’t matter if the threat of disaster is fictional or probable. People will find plenty of reward tending to their gardens, zombies or not. Still, she says she’ll continue practicing her machete skills just in case.

Click for more stories from the Anchorage Food Mosaic.