HOMEGROWN Life: What We Learned From Our Year Without Groceries


| 10/24/2011 1:51:00 PM


Tags: farm, farmers market, food, goats, groceries, harvest, urban, year, Farm Aid and Homegrown.org,

 I can’t believe it’s been a year now since we started our year without groceries. We learned a lot in that year. We are definitely healthier, but also we’re happier. Our relationship with each other is stronger as we’ve had to learn how to really work well together.

When we first decided to do a year without buying food from the grocery store, convenience stores, box stores or restaurants we thought the challenge was going to be really difficult. And it kind of started out that way. We had difficulties getting local milk, even though we live near a lot of dairies, and our goats hadn’t been bred yet so we had to wait for them to start producing. We had an order on part of a steer that almost didn’t come in, and our first monthly co-op order was missed.

But as time continued onward we started to get into the groove of things. After a lot of research I had found a milk delivery service that actually came to my town. We made do that first month without our co-op order and the steer finally came in. We visited the farmers’ market every Saturday and if something came up and we couldn’t make our local one, we were able to always find another one in a nearby town that we could go to. Our little urban farm started to become more productive and eventually we were able to provide all of our own dairy from our two goats.
 Vegetables 

We met a lot of great small family farmers and built relationships with them. They answered our questions, gave us tours, and we relied on them for our food. We learned that you don’t have to produce your own food to give up the grocery store, you just have to get out there and meet the people that do produce your food. Not to mention that we saved money on food while buying higher quality products.

About 6 months into our year we realized that it was pretty easy and that we wanted to have more of a challenge. We decided to go the last three months of our challenge without buying any food. We would have to rely on what our little lot could provide us along with anything we had on the shelf.

 Farm 

We were so far behind on planting due to Mother Nature refusing to cooperate that I was worried we wouldn’t have anything to eat fresh. We got lucky and our first big harvest was the day we started the three month challenge. For those first few weeks we were limited to cucumbers, green beans and zucchini. That was probably the hardest part of the challenge – having such a limited diet. And because of our less than stellar weather during the first part of the year, our fruit trees were a complete failure.

On the plus side though we learned first hand what we should have in storage in case of emergencies. We also developed a bartering system with friends which helped strengthen our community.

After a year of being free from grocery stores we decided to continue this journey indefinitely but we’ll allow ourselves one restaurant visit a month. We met a lot of great people along the way and we learned a lot about ourselves.


 



 Rachel Dog Island Farm 

ANETTEE
1/15/2014 8:18:20 AM

I was surprised that you are allowed animals where you live. It's nice to see you go to the farmers market but where I live it's only open late summer to early fall.I read the other comments about raising chicken for eggs and to pay for themselves warning they will not pay for themselves. I have around 70 of them come winter I was only getting about 9 eggs a day, so between lack of daylight and molting don't plan on an egg from every chicken every day of the year. The reason to have them is so you know what you are eating.


1/14/2014 11:05:53 AM

grax.mccoar, clearly being 3 years late you weren't really up-to-date with what we did and what the rules were. We weren't buying *food* from grocery stores like Safeway, Raleys, Whole Foods, Trader Joes, etc. We weren't buying *food* at drug stores, convenience stores, box stores, restaurants, etc. We weren't shopping at what you would think of as a "co-op." It wasn't brick and mortar, it was a buying club made up of few people that bought directly from the source (I suppose I should have made that clearer) so as to save money by buying in bulk. Flour, sugar, etc. came right from the mill where it was produced. Feed stores sell feed for animals, not food for people. As for personal care items, I wasn't about to go a year without toilet paper (again, we were focusing on food with this project) but I did make a lot of other items - deodorant, soap, shampoo, laundry detergent, etc. - from scratch or bought them directly from the person that made them. Actually, I still do this. Homemade deodorant works much better than commercial stuff, commercial shampoo gives me ear infections, and I have skin reactions to most commercial laundry detergents.


KATHLEENE
1/14/2014 6:04:33 AM

My husband and I are 60. We've been growing some of our own veggies on about 1/4 of our 1 acre lot for 3o years now. However, for the past 3 years we decided to enlarge. I also went back to making almost everything homemade now, and back to the canning I did when we first moved here. We now have 2 large freezers in our garage, and a dehydrator, so we freeze and dehydrate as well. Starting in mid summer, I start gradually stocking up on canned goods, buying a few extra with each shopping trip, for our large pantry in the garage As a nurse, I've also been studying and growing medicinal herbs, for the pasts 3 years, and use them as a first response to minor injuries and sickness. I also used aloe ( on radiation burns); and Ginger root, and chamomile teas, for burn care, and symptomatic relief during my husband's cancer treatments 2 years ago. They were all excellent and I now have 5 large aloe plants I keep on hand. We've both lost considerable weight, yet, eat healthier, and feel better than we have in 30 years! As always, I keep my stack of Mother Earth News magazines close on hand, and they've been such a wonderful inspiration!







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