Why am I doing this backyard subsistence thing?

I get plenty of blank stares and questions when I explain to people what I am planning to do in regards to raising all of my own food. Is that even possible? Why not just a few vegetables? Are you crazy? All are valid and pertinent questions to be sure. I think the best way to answer will be for me to give two lists, one giving the reasons why I am doing this and another to dispel what some people may think my reasons are.

Not reasons I am doing this:

To save money because of currently high food prices.

With the labor involved and the price of city water it would really only make sense for me to do this as a money saving endeavor for a few types of vegetables and greens. Certainly not for grains, dried beans and dent corn for tortillas!

Because I don’t trust that the food I buy is safe and as good as it can be for my family.

I’ll be the first to say there are definitely problems with the way the vast majority of our food is factory farmed and monocropped. But I think in general most food you buy in the store is safe for you in the long and short term, though there are certainly items that it makes the most sense to buy as organically raised. I mostly take issue with the way our society negatively impacts the environment with our current mode of agriculture and the cruelty involved in raising animals on factory farms. 

To ensure that my family will have food in case of some terrible disaster or sudden collapse of the current distribution system.

It’s fairly plain to see by all my neighbors that I’m an avid gardener and have always raised some of my own food. Now, I’m on pretty good terms with all of my neighbors but I’ll not kid myself that they wouldn’t think twice about taking what is not theirs if real hunger set in for them and their children. I’d likely do the same under extreme conditions.


Reasons I am doing this: 

To see if I can

For as long as I can remember I’ve been fascinated with the idea of self provisioning and for many years I’ve been an avid gardener. Over the years I’ve raised varying proportions of my own food. I’ve raised pigs, chickens and goats. I’ve done plenty of canning and freezing. But at this point I have decided to put it all together and to add some things in order to try raising a nearly complete diet. I’m quite sure I’ll never swim the English Channel or scale Mt. Everest so this will be one of my life’s big challenges.

To see what is possible and tease out what is practical

A fair amount of what I am planning to do will likely prove to be impractical for most people to attempt. Such as growing and processing my own grain and making my own cheese out of the milk from my own goat. And certainly doing all of this simultaneously would be a daunting task for most people. But if I can pull this off, then I have at least proven it is possible under my specific set of circumstances. But more importantly I’ll hopefully demonstrate to others a set of practices that are practical under their unique set of circumstances. I suppose you could look at it like product development in a corporation. The R&D department can prove if a product is possible and then others in the company can work with these ideas and hopefully come up with practical ways to build it.

My Kids

It’s really important to me that my kids develop a deep understanding of where their food comes from and how it is grown. From this, I think, will come an understanding of how they fit into nature. They will learn that with healthy soil, clean water and air and an amenable climate people can thrive, but without these gifts mere survival can become questionable.

A financially pressed citizenry

Though some may argue about the reasons why, I think it’s pretty clear that our country came very close to entering another full blown depression. And though economic statistics tell us were doing better and better each quarter I think most people would agree were not out of the woods yet and that the ground has really shifted in regards to the ability of the average citizen to simply earn a living, let alone get ahead in life. Considering this, I think making available to people a working example of growing a portion of their food and thus making their hard earned dollars stretch a little farther will be an important and appreciated contribution.

Unsustainable Agriculture

As I stated above, my main beef (pun intended) with our current prevailing methods of agriculture is the negative impact these methods have on the environment. Top soil loss, aquifer depletion, oceanic dead zones, decreasing crop diversity, and the list goes on. These are all effects of the way modern society goes about growing its food. If I can have even the tiniest impact on trying to help turn society toward a more sustainable and resilient  agriculture all of my efforts would be worth it.

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