Living HOMEGROWN: Am I Doing This Right?

Reader Contribution by Farm Aid And Homegrown.Org
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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!