Producing more food for my family and becoming generally more self-sufficient has been one of my long time goals now, so I was excited to see the Independence Days Challenge is back on Sharon Astyk’s excellent blog The Chatelaine’s Keys. From the site:
The whole idea is to get the positive sense of your accomplishments – it is easy to think we haven’t done anything to move forward, but in fact, we all do, almost every day. We just think of accomplishment as a big thing – a whole day spent putting up applesauce or a hundred tomato plants. The Independence Day project makes us count our little accomplishments and see that we are moving forward. So for each week, tell us what you have done in the following categories:
Plant something: A lot of us were trained to think of planting as done once a year, but if you start seeds, do season extension and succession plant, you’ll get much, much more out of your garden, so I try and plant something every day from February into September.
Harvest something: Everything counts – from the milk and eggs you get from your animals to the first dandelions from your yard to 50 bushels of tomatoes – it all counts.
Preserve something: Again, I find preserving is most productive if I try and do a little every day that there is anything, from the first dried raspberry leaves and jarred rhubarb to the last squashes at the end of the season.
Waste not: Reducing food waste, composting everything or feeding it to animals, reducing your use of disposables and creation of garbage, reusing things that would otherwise go to waste, making sure your preserved and stored foods are kept in good shape – all of these count.
Want Not: Adding to your food storage or stash of goods for emergencies, building up resources that will be useful in the long term.
Eat the Food: Making full and good use of what you have, making sure that you are getting everything you can from your food, trying new recipes and new cooking ideas, eating out of your storage!
Build community food systems: What have you done to help other people have better food access or to make your local food system more resilient?
And a new one: Skill up: What did you learn this week that will help you in the future – could be as simple as fixing the faucet or as hard as building a shed, as simple as a new way of keeping records or as complicated as making shoes. Whatever you are learning, you get a merit badge for it – this is important stuff.
So each week on Fridays I’m going to post what I’ve done in each category in the past week. I’m hoping that this will be the additional motivation I need to reach real food independence! Here’s the recap from this week:
Plant Something: Well, I’ve got nothing this week, although I’m waiting on asparagus and onion seeds to sprout, but they were planted a week or two ago. I expect to pot up some seedlings soon though, so maybe I’ll have something for this next week.
Harvest Something: We’ve been regularly eating salads from the garden – delicious in the cool winter weather!
Preserve Something: Hmm, no. There are no berries or other local fruits in season right now, and tomatoes are far off.
Waste Not: I’m planning on eating up tiny amounts of short rib meat and leftover barbeque today, so this counts, right? And everything possible always goes into the compost.
Want Not: Not really food, but I just received a bulk order of toothpaste so that should last us for a while…
Build Community Food Systems: Sad to say, but I haven’t really done anything here, unless you count shopping at farmer’s markets (which I suppose you could).
Skill Up: A little older than a week, but I made this DIY seed warmer and it’s been working quite well.
Not to shabby if I do say so myself. I think having these categories will make me think harder about what I’m doing during the week – especially the “Build Community food Systems” category. Feel free to comment and tell me what you’ve done!