Lessons Learned from My Yearlong 100% Homegrown and Foraged Food Challenge



It’s the dream of millions of people: to live off the land and to never need to make a trip to the grocery store. But for nearly everyone with that dream, it’s just that — a dream. Our current global, industrial food system is just too convenient and easy to resist. Our modern lives are too busy and monetized to go that far back to the land.

I’ve been exploring food for nearly a decade, and since the beginning, I’ve had the burning question: Would it be possible to produce 100 percent of my own food in the times we live in? Could I exist without grocery stores and restaurants? Nothing packaged or processed? Nothing shipped from far-off lands? Could I grow and forage everything I ate for an entire year?

That’s the question I set out to answer just over a year ago. One big thing, though: I didn’t have a farm or even a house with a front yard. All I had was a backpack, and I didn’t have much growing experience either. You could say I was jumping off the deep end.

I chose to do this in Florida for its year-round growing season and the local “grow-your-own” movement I had stumbled across while traveling through a few years prior. I quickly got to work, meeting people in my neighborhood and proposing that I turn their lawns into gardens. It wasn’t hard to find takers. I’d cover all the costs and do pretty much all the work, and they could eat as much food as they’d like. What’s not to love about that deal?

I spent countless hours attending permaculture meetups; visiting gardens, farms and nurseries; taking foraging classes; reading books; and watching videos. Everything I needed to know was at my fingertips. I just had to put it all together and apply it.

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What an adventure! And what a great experience to have as a base for the rest of your life, for yourself, your family, and others. It reminds me of Barbara Kingsolver's book, Animal, Vegetable, Miracle, which I've read at least twice. That book encouraged me to dry tomatoes in addition to canning them, raise some turkeys (Bourbon Reds), and really think/appreciate the food I love that comes from far away, like coffee, vanilla, citrus fruit, etc. Good luck with the media and future adventures.

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