Last night I was reading an article titled,
Self-sufficiency, self-reliance, and freedom
I felt as if he answered one of the questions I have been struggling with for the past 5 yrs. I read a lot of blogs about people who are finding some acreage, urban homestead, growing own food, edible front yards, back to the basics and ponder how do they do it all!
A few years ago, when my youngest child was in high school, I decided to dedicate more time to “growing food” on our city lot. I started reading everything available on how to produce more food in small spaces. Due to time restraints in the past, I never was able to devote much time to growing food. I always had a small kitchen garden but never as much as I wanted to due to busy schedules until a few events that happened together over a few months.
It all started with my middle daughter deciding she wanted an above ground pool in the backyard. We filled the area with sand to level it to put her small pool in that she and two other people could float in at the time. I do not care for pools, ( prefer lakes to swim in) and the idea of tearing up some of my green space for this big container of water was annoying at the time, but being a good mother( I am sure debatable by my kids) I decided it would be okay for a bit. It was in place for about two months until her younger brothers friend broke the pool.
I was left with an area of sand that was about 10 feet by 10 feet right out my back door. Then a storm came through the next month that they said was not a tornado and took out many of our older trees. Many of the trees were cut off just as in a Vincent van Gogh painting. There was nothing left but tall stumps that eventually some greenery grew out of and looked hideous! You could not drive a car down the road for days, and we did not have electricity for a week. We spent time cooking outside, and it gave me time to ponder what to do with all the changes in our backyard. People were helping each other clear their yards, and since we were in the dark, we all started getting to know our neighbors. It was a time of reflection for us all.
After the debris had been taken away from all our yards, we found more sunlight. Where the pool used to be, was now lacking a large maple tree that split in half. The entire area was full sun. These two events seemed to spark in me the motivation to transform our sand dilemma into a space to socialize with family, friends and neighbors.
I started to grow more food than I had in the past. I read the book “Lasagna Gardening ” by Patricia Lanza and decided to tear up more of the grass and create more space to integrate food with my flowers and herbs.
Getting back to his article…it makes sense to me. We work to buy things but to be self-reliant we work to create the things we don’t have to buy. In 2000 when I was diagnosed with cancer I was determined to eat organic food, but organic food purchased at the grocery store and even sometimes at the farmers market can be expensive! So I started tearing up my lawn in back and front to put more food in that I could eat organically. I have found over the years it is a FULL-TIME JOB! In the article, they talk about how one adult may work outside the “urban homestead” while the other does all the work at home. I agree!
I no longer teach but am involved with working with other people in our community growing food in the city. His article gave me the freedom to accept that I am not lazy. I am up early, work all day at it and even into the night. I work more now than I did at my job outside the home. So freedom does come when one is self-reliant/self-sufficient. But it is HARDWORK…and his article talked about much more, but what I walked away with was one quote “it’s a hard way to live.” …ain’t that the truth!