Archive for January, 2009

Self Sufficient Living and Food


With food shortages looming around the world, there’s no better time to adopt self sufficient living and start growing your own food. Just last spring, the Wall Street Journal published an article addressing the prospect of a food crisis right here in the United States. The article written in April of 2008 pointed out that food prices were already rising faster than the returns a person would likely expect by keeping money in the bank or a money market fund. Manu Daftary, a top Wall Street investor and the manager of the Quaker Strategic Growth mutual fund stated, “I think prices are going higher.  People are too complacent.  They think it isn’t going to happen here.  But I don’t know how the food companies can absorb higher costs.” Couple that with the reports which followed in the summer warning that crops were only average at best.  Soy beans in the United States were running 16% behind when the article was written in June of last year.

So here’s the question – is it really practical for families to think about growing their own food?  While it’s unrealistic to think that you will grow everything – fruit, vegetables, grains, etc., you can certainly grow more than you might think. What’s more, you can have enough surplus to share or trade with others who grow the things you don’t manage to produce. To do that will require careful planning, preparation, and yes – hard work.  But those who do it agree that it’s well worth it.

Where do you start? I want to recommend an excellent book written by an expert who’s been growing much of his own food for a long time and making a living with the surplus. I consider The New Organic Grower a must read for anyone who wants to make a serious dent in their food bill, and explore the idea of becoming more self sufficient, perhaps even making some money to boot. The book covers everything from the tools you’ll need, crop selection, planting and crop rotation, and pest control. The beauty of this book is that Eliot Coleman shows you how to have a successful small family farm which can provide both food and a living. With spring just around the corner, it’s not too early to get ready for your garden now.


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Self Sufficient Living – Seed Selection


It’s that time of year to get seeds if you haven’t already done so. For self sufficient gardeners there are several important points to keep in mind.  First, the issue of GMO vs. Non GMO.  While some are singing the praises of GMO, even from an environmental point of view – others are raising a warning as to some potentially serious problems. These include health hazards.  Even though some think GMOs are great because in some cases, they preclude the need for pesticides (because they have pesticides “built in”), there have been reports of adverse skin reactions to handling some GMO corn. While this is only one example, many, including this author, believe that there are numerous health problems related to this technology.                                                                                                              

Unfortunately, this subject has been presented in an “either – or” way. In other words, it is made to appear that we have a choice to either use pesticides, or go GMO. This approach falls short as there is another alternative – namely the use of harmless yet effective methods of pest control. We’ll look more at that in a future post.  For now, let’s look at another important factor when considering seed selection.

While many popular garden varieties come from hybridized seeds, benefits of hybridization must be weighed against the disadvantages in terms of self sufficient farming. The seeds of hybridized varities are, of course, not viable for reproduction, which for practical purposes makes the farmer dependent upon a seed supplier.

So if we’re looking for non-hybridized and non-GMO seeds, where do we turn? A great source book to find such seeds is the Garden Seed Inventory. This volume also helps the gardener identify seeds which are especially suited for specific climate zones. The Garden Seed Inventory is put out by Seed Savers Exchange, a nonprofit organization committed to saving heirloom garden seeds from extinction. The organization was founded in 1975 by Kent and Diane Whealy, and now has nearly 8,000 members around the world. Its headquarters are at Heritage Farm in Decorah, Iowa.

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Self Sufficient Living


Several years ago I made a decision that has changed my life forever.  I was living the typical rat race: commuting to work, sleeping in a townhouse, and working hard to pay the power, water and food bills.  Then one day a dream was born.  Wouldn’t it be great to break out of this, move to the country, grow our own food and adopt a self sufficient lifestyle?  It took two years, but we did it.  We left our townhouse and moved into a rustic home on twenty acres in the mountains. We learned how to prune fruit trees and grow a garden.  We started drinking water from our own well and heating our home with wood we cut and split ourselves. Now we spend more time out doors and enjoy getting close to nature.

Self sufficient living involves many facets including: alternative energy, gardening, food storage and preservation, natural and herbal remedies, and learning to live more efficiently and in harmony with nature. On the self sufficient blog, we’ll be sharing the best resources including books, videos, and other helpful resources. One great place to start is The New Complete Book of Self-Sufficiency. This classic includes 312 pages of helpful information written by a veteran who runs a school of self-sufficiency.

Self sufficient living has had an amazing impact on our family. It’s a very different way of life, but I can honestly say, it’s the most important move we ever made. If all of this sounds good to you but you don’t know how to achieve it, stick around.  If we could do it, so can you!

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