In five years, my husband and I hope to have the money for a down payment on a piece of property where we can start a small, self-sustaining, completely off the grid, homestead. It feels a bit like a pipe dream, but it is our dream nonetheless. We have a long way to go to reach our goal of living a sustainable and self-sufficient lifestyle. We are learning now, though, that self-sustainability doesn’t have to mean solar panels and well water. It starts with the ability to figure out how to do most things completely on your own.
Canning and freezing seasonal fruits and vegetables, both from local farms and our own garden, is one thing that we taught ourselves to do in order to become more self-sufficient. We believe in trying to eat as seasonally as possible and storing what we can for the rest of the year. Not only do we support our community’s farmers by eating locally grown food, but we also save a lot of money by preserving food when it is at it cheapest.
Strawberries happen to be cheapest in May. We like to go strawberry picking every year to save a little bit of money. We always try to preserve as many as possible to eat throughout the rest of the year. Some go into the freezer for smoothies and pies, and the rest gets turned into jam, marmalade, or conserves. We enjoy the time spent together at the farm, picking the berries. We also enjoy the time spent together as a couple, preserving the berries after our kids are in bed. It has become an annual date night for us, and we are even a little bit competitive about it now. My husband likes to think that his strawberry lemon marmalade is better than mine. I beg to differ.
The “pick your own” strawberries from the farm down the road from us cost us $1.57 per pound. Grocery store strawberries cost $3.99 a pound. It took us roughly 1.5 hours to pick 50 pounds of strawberries. So, in 1.5 hours we saved ourselves $121 dollars. It’s just a small amount compared to the rest of our food budget, but we enjoy going, and we would rather support our local farmers than pay for the over-priced grocery store strawberries shipped from California.
If eating local is important to you too, but you don’t have access to local farms because you live in the city or don’t have a car, look into local CSA (community supported agriculture) programs. Many of them deliver or have local pick-up points. Try looking for a CSA local to you at http://www.localharvest.org/csa/
There are a million ways to become a little bit more self-sufficient. You could plant a container garden on your deck or have a full-sized garden in your yard. Even having a pot of herbs on your kitchen window sill is a small way to grow your own food. Don’t let the home you live in decide the kind of life you want to live or the kind of food you want to eat.
Do you try to eat locally grown food?
What steps do you take towards self-sufficiency?