March 5, 2010

Independence Day Challenge - Week 1

Independence Day Challenge? What's that, you ask. The Independence Day Challenge is something that started over at Sharon Astyk's blog a couple of years ago. It's purpose is to motivate folks to start doing more for themselves and for personal independence from the commercial agribiz system to meet one's food needs.

Now, if you've read any of my "waxing philosophical" posts, then you know such a challenge is right up my alley. It's my cup of tea. After all, growing and preserving one's own food is an essential part of a self-sustaining lifestyle, isn't it? That aside, I want to grow and preserve as much of my own food as possible, not only because I enjoy doing it, but because I want the healthiest, freshest, local food available. Plus, we can enjoy certain foods even if the grocery store is out, or the price is out of reach.

I realize other's motives may or may not be the same as mine. Folks site a variety of reasons for growing, eating, and preserving their own food: eating healthier, concern over the economy, reducing their carbon footprint, fighting global warming and climate change, preparing for peak oil, stretching their dwindling food dollars, preserving a part of our agrarian heritage, preserving rare heritage plants, learning new skills, freedom from the whims of government and industry, or simply for the joy of doing it.

The neat thing about this challenge, is that it is not an "all or nothing" endeavor. It's realizing that every little bit helps, that small steps are better than standing still, and that every step taken gets us closer to the goal. For more details, check out Sharon's post, Independence Days Year III.

Besides the doing of it, the challenge includes reporting weekly on seven areas. I won't promise that my reports will be weekly, but I'll try my best.

For week 1:

1. Plant something
  • 9 cabbage plants (boughten)
  • 5 horseradish roots
  • 3 Rugosa Rosa bushes (for rose hips)
2. Harvest something -
  • Fresh rosemary from the little Christmas tree shaped rosemary bush I bought on clearance at the end of last year.
  • Alfalfa sprouts
  • turnips
  • carrots
  • broccoli - a few little florets for sprinkling on a salad
3. Preserve something
  • 3 quarts sauerkraut with store bought cabbage
  • 1 quart lacto-fermented turnips from our garden turnips
4. Waste Not
  • Croutons and bread crumbs from homemade sourdough bread crusts
  • Using hot cereal and muffin batter scrapings to feed my sourdough starter
  • Chicken coop - using a lot of recycled lumber found on the place and downed cedar trees. It's rustic looking, but we like it.
  • Dan's workshop - same thing. He's using every piece of lumber and shelving we can find, much of it having been here when we got here. Actually the whole project could be classified as "waste not," because he refrained from using our financial resources for a new, modern looking workshop.
5. Want Not
  • I'm going to count the chickens here: for eggs, manure, meat, and more chickens
  • Homemade sourdough bread
  • Made yogurt, yogurt cheese, & whey
  • Lined dried clothes (Yay for some sun again!!!)
6. Build Community Food Systems
  • I'm blogging about it
  • I'm encouraging others to join in
7. Eat the Food
  • Have been eating fresh turnips, carrots, broccoli, & alfalfa sprouts; sauerkraut; dehydrated & canned figs; dehydrated blueberries & green beans; frozen bell peppers; canned spaghetti sauce (on pizza - YUM!); strawberry jam, muscadine jelly, & fig jam; dill pickles, bread & butter pickles, tomato relish, corn relish, & pickle relish (tomato and pickle relishes preserved in previous years. Oh, and add apple butter in that category too).
  • Have finished our canned & frozen green beans, frozen okra, and frozen corn.
  • Haven't tried yet - dehydrated yellow summer straightneck squash
Hopefully I can get into a routine in recording this as I think it will be a helpful record. Next week, I'll just record what the week's activities have been, and go on from there.

Independence Day Challenge - Week 1 copyright March 2010 


Benita said...

Do you know what I admire most about what you are doing? I admire that you and your husband are on the same page on this. I'd love to do something like this, but it would be me doing all the work, and with a day job, there is no way to do what you two do together. If only you knew how inspiring your site is to the rest of us. Have you though about using your experiences and your blog site and turning your story into a book? I'd buy it in a heart beat!

Julie said...

I'm trying to be more like you hopfully it will get easier once I have my garden space ready for planting!

Life Looms Large said...

That challenge seems really cool. I like how it's not an all-or-nothing thing. I'm definitely sometimes guilty of thinking I have to do the huge version, rather than the tiny do-able version of things!

Good luck!


Sharon said...

I want to say - but you live in a good climate for that. Then I have to step back and realize that the ranch I live on was self-sustaining until it was subdivided so I could live here.

Leigh said...

Thanks Benita! But really, it doesn't take two cooperating folks to do it. If you plant a tree, or some tomatoes, if you eat lettuce from your garden, if you pop a few chopped up green peppers into the freezer, these all count. Even your 10,000 steps program. If you walk a block instead of driving, your decreasing your dependence on gasoline. Go read the description on Sharon's blog It's encouraging. Every little bit helps. That's what it's all about.

Julie, you will enjoy your garden so much! Of course, you've done a lot this year too, finishing your home and getting a new loom.

Sue, I agree. It seems more an encouragement than a challenge doesn't it? Or actually, it's a personal challenge for oneself. That's how I'm viewing it anyway.

Sharon, it's interesting to read how others participate in this challenge. Folks from all over, doing what they can, some more, some less. I didn't realize your place was once part of a larger ranch. And it's interesting that someone could make a successful go of it in Nevada!

bspinner said...

There is not reason why each one of us can't do a little to decrease our carbon foot print and help the planet.

You've listed lots of things we all can do when it comes to food and some not very hard. I for one hope to be more mindful of what I eat and where it comes from.

Flower said...

You are an encourager! Your record keeping is so helpful and I will ponder all I've read. Thanks for your lists...and ideas!!

Leigh said...

Barb, I agree, some are not very hard. There are a lot more good ideas at Sharon's blog. This is do-able for all of us.

Flower, the record keeping truly is helpful. For me too. I found it helped to think back over the week and write down what I've done. Sometimes the little things don't seem like much, but when they're all put down in a list, it's encouraging to see how the little thing adds up.

Callie Brady said...

We are going to plant in planter boxes this year but nothing in such a structured manner. Good luck to all the gardeners!

Unknown said...

Absolutely love this challenge Leigh! I am joining in and just put it up on my blog! I look forward to reading more of your challenge! Thanks for sharing!

Leigh said...

Callie, good for you! I should make some planter boxes some time.

Rainbow Rivers I'm delighted you're joining in!