My family has been through a lot of changes over the last year. A person who had the knowledge of some of the tools and chores around the homestead no longer lives here…along with some of the tools he used. I have had to find work outside the home whereas I used to be a stay at home mom who knitted all our hats, mittens, socks and other wooly goodness. I used to grow and put up most of the veggies we ate. I homeschooled both my sons but now my youngest is in school. We eat different food because the time to cook from scratch is stretched with schedules. The garden was not maximized to its potential last year. Things did not get done.
I struggle in my thoughts between what would be easy; a small apartment in town, and what feels right; finding a way to make this work. In that effort I am fortunate to have my friend Rhonda. Rhonda squats on land that has been in her family since the early 1800's She has a little shack she built herself. She hauls water and has a little solar panel she charges off a car battery. She works part time at an alternative health store. She is an herbalist and has a vast knowledge of wild foods.
During a recent visit we were discussing the challenges with gardening that we faced last year. Ronda lamented her inability to grown winter squash, I lamented the faced paced life that took so much time away from gardening and putting food by. She shared that she knew several other people with the similar challenges. The solution was simple. A group of us will get together and grow a large quantity of one crop and divide it among the group. Contrary to the idea of a communal garden where each person would have to get in their car in order to tend a communal plot. Each person can stay home and tend their own plot and share some of the bounty. Each of us may have unique strengths growing some crops. I will be planting brussel sprouts, cabbage, rutabaga and broccoli towards this effort. I can get these easily in the ground in the spring. They do well with the soil I have. I can grow micro greens under their canopy and when it is too warm for the greens I can mulch them heavily so I will not have to spend time weeding them. It is my hope that as part of this effort we can have a monthly pot luck at each other's house and offer to weed and mulch the garden of the host. Our first organizing meeting is Sunday, February 2.
For me I think the root to making this venture work is to tap into the human capitol. It is not for lack of will or knowledge or even small financial resources that I find lacking. It is the time and hands to get some of the work done that seems to be missing from the equation. I learned a simple lesson last summer that I soon forgot. I had just received some laying hens. I traded them for the sheep and goat. It was a reasonable decision. The sheep and goat were at this point only mouths to feed and more often than not they were eating what I did not want them to eat ( I could tell a sad tale about brussel sprouts). Laying hens on the other hand are perfect little food factories. I didn't have the right housing for them. So I had a work party. I gathered a bunch of scrap wood and some old windows and turned the sheep shed into a chicken coop. Actually a bunch of friends and I turned it into a chicken coop with a good door, nesting boxes and lots of room for some more layers.
I think the solution to this will come from my community. By strengthening my community I can build in resilience.