Self-reliance and sustainability in the 21st century.
I am the Flock-Tender here on HOMEGROWN.org. I am keeping a chronicle of my experiences learning, living, and growing a homegrown lifestyle fresh out of college.
It’s a question I find myself asking more often as I delve deeper into a homegrown lifestyle – What does it really mean to live HOMEGROWN? Am I doing this right?
(Photo via Caroline Malcolm)
Growing up as one of five in a rural New England town, I was accustomed to canning jam, green tomato pickles, and whatever else we could preserve, digging for potatoes and harvesting lettuce, wearing hand-me-down clothes and playing in the woods. We lived more simply than most of our neighbors. My parents built our log home together, we raised animals, and we ate dinner together at home, usually sourcing from the garden or from local farms. It was our way of life and it was second nature to me. We lived “homegrown” in order to survive, and to keep traditions alive in our family – and it was easy for us.
(Photo via Flickr)
Going to college in the “big city” allowed me luxuries that I didn’t have as a youngin’. There was a movie theatre within walking distance! I could get pizza at 3 am! I could get across town and back without a car! It was a new and exciting way of life for me. I still enjoy the buzz of the city after four years of living it, but it isn’t the best environment to fully enjoy the greener pastures of a homegrown lifestyle.
Maybe it’s something instinctual inside of me that yearns for a simplified, way of life. I want to live homegrown, but I’m not sure that I can do it on my own. I’ve enjoyed perusing local farmers’ market and making meals out of what I can source locally. I find recycling, composting, and repurposing fun and easy to do. Crafting and DIY-ing feeds my creativity and imagination. I love caring for container “gardens” and talking about growing and planting with others. But, am I doing enough to be “homegrown” and am I doing it correctly?
I’m not canning or preserving on my own. I’m not generating my own energy. I’m not growing everything I need to survive, nor am I purchasing solely from farmers. I’m not making my own soaps, laundry detergent, or cosmetics (yet!). I’m still drinking mass-produced beer. And, I don’t feel that I’m really changing the world. It’s daunting to think how far I have to go. Living in a shoebox apartment on a shoestring budget, it’s daunting to think of all the “shoulda, coulda, wouldas” that would make my life more sustainable, my footprint smaller and myself a better steward of the land. Sometimes, I’m just plain old overwhelmed.
But, I have found that this movement is less about doing everything, and more about doing something. I want to live simpler and more self-sufficiently. I want to grow my own food and utilize renewable energy. I want to make my own clothing and cosmetics, but I am 22, fresh out of the dormitories, and just getting started on an independent life. I am a newbie, and I’m not going to change the way I live overnight.
(Photo via Flickr)
Instead of being overwhelmed, I’m channeling that energy into making the most of what I have where I am in my own life, while contributing to a greater social movement in the meantime. The more and more time I spend talking with folks who are also attempting to live homegrown, the more and more I feel that I am part of an alternative system of doing, eating, crafting, and spending. The integrity and importance of this movement keeps me going on my path to establish a homegrown life. And, I realize that I am doing more to become self-sufficient every day! Despite needing to read books about canning, Google garden terminology, and research the ingredients in purchases that I do have to make as an urban resident, I am educating myself and about living homegrown, while teaching others new skills, too, which is at the heart of the matter!
We all can’t live as off-the-grid purists overnight, but we can follow a path to our own version of homegrown living. We can plant the seeds of change first by informing ourselves and learning from those who emulate homegrown living – the homesteading superstars we all strive to be. This dissemination of information and sharing of skills via hands-on experience or through a resource like HOMEGROWN.org builds a community within the movement, and increases motivation to realize our own homegrown goals. Whether that is growing herbs in a window box, starting a farm, or building an Earth house, we can all find ways to live homegrown and to inspire others to do the same.
Share your homegrown living tips. What motivates you? Why do you chose to live HOMEGROWN? Add to our discussion and keep the movement alive!