Monday, 8 April 2013
I am currently rereading the book Independence Days: A Guide to Sustainable Food Storage and Preservation by Sharon Astyk. I will write a review at a later date, but it is basically a 'why, what and (very basic) how' of personal food growing, storage and security. The title comes from the writer Carla Emery, whose The Encyclopedia of Country Living: An Old Fashioned Recipe Book I will also review at some point (the TL;DR of which will be that that particular book is nothing short of brilliant and I think you should buy it - like, yesterday).
Independence days were the days that Emery managed to feed her family from their own produce, their own pantry, and from local producers. Through the first part of the growing year she tried to sow something every single day. Halfway through the season her focus would switch to preserving something from her garden every day ready for winter.
It isn't for everyone, but striving for true 'independence days' appeals to me - it suits my temperament, personal ethics and my obsessive love of growing food and being out of doors. In previous years, I have become discouraged at the 'smallness' of our efforts in the face of our annual grocery bill. Our tiny yard and plot seemed like a token shuffle on a long journey to self sufficiency that we will never complete. But that is not the attitude to have is it? As unrealistic as this goal may be at the moment, working towards it gives me some peace and purpose. I hope that one day we make it to an acre, some ducks and space for a root cellar. In the meantime, we do what we can. We have plans for modest food preservation this year, past the ketchup and chutney of past years. I am looking into buying more from local food producers. We are growing some food.
In fact every day this week, we have managed to sow something. Today it was chervil seeds, yesterday a couple of pots of salad leaves; and in the days before that hyssop, physalis, alpine strawberries, bergamot, achocha and winter squash. Tomatoes have been potted on and moved outside and for the first year ever the aubergines have survived to grow more than two sets of leaves. All good practice for our future farm. In the meantime - who needs acreage when you are having fun?