August 8, 2011

The Why

After reading this post on Dog Island Farm and viewing the linked video of Esperanza of Pluck and Feather, I thought it would be a good idea to share with you some of why I am pursuing urban homesteading.

I was raised with an urban garden, in fact all of our family had gardens.  My parents planted it every year, and included my sister and I in their efforts.  I helped to plant seeds and watched my Dad get the rototiller out to get the soil ready.

Pumpkins from our backyard garden, 1979.  The raspberries
growing along the back fence are still growing in our garden today.
My grandmother had a garden and raised chickens, ducks and geese at their beach front property that we visited nearly every weekend when I was a child.  I remember harvesting potatoes from the sandy soil and eating them raw where we stood.

Me at my grandmother's coop, 1982
My Aunt had a large garden at her property in the hills of SW Washington and a greenhouse where she started her plants from seed every year.  I hated having the job of taking the compost out to the bin near the garden.  Now I make my daughters do it!

As long as I can remember we had rhubarb, raspberries, blueberries and black caps (black raspberries) growing in our back yard.  We tried growing strawberries, but they never produced so well, so my mom would take my sister and I to pick strawberries in the fields on the outskirts of town.

For me, planting the garden, harvesting our food...preserving the harvest, brings me closer to my family, to our farming roots back in Iowa.
However, we also do this for the financial payback.  We want to eat organically and this is a way of accomplishing that goal in a cost effective way for ourselves and we do not end up spending our paychecks on food from a high end natural foods store.

My sister and I "helping" make applesauce, 1975
Most of it seems to come naturally to me, but it is really because that is how I was raised.  We re-use, salvage and re-commission everything we possibly can.  We scout garage sales, craigslist and our local Rebuilding Center to find items we need..they are either really cheap or free!  I like to think it makes my grandfather proud and my mother feel like she finally has gotten through to me!

Re-using spice jars to hold seeds for next year's garden, re-using apple juice glass jugs to ferment wine, using old tool handles and branches to stake and hold fencing in my garden.  We also frequent the farms surrounding the city to pick items we do not grow ourselves, and dig enough razor clams to fill our freezer for the year each Fall and Spring.

Cleaning clams at my grandparent's beach house, 1976.
Teaching our children how to plant, how to tend the chickens and our garden, and visiting the local farmers markets enables them to understand that their food does not just come from the grocery store.   They begin to see how our lives are linked to our community and the need to preserve farmland and open spaces.  As an added bonus for us, our kids are at an age where they are beginning to understand how quickly a dollar disappears.  They actually prefer to shop at the local re-sale stores and Goodwill...they have found their dollar goes much further.   Apparently I am getting through to them too.

No comments:

Post a Comment