Let's talk about what food freedom means to us.
If you visit our Farmstead, you won't find dew kissed fields or monocrop isles. No cattle(okay, technically a lie, our neighbor's cows spy on me while I garden,) no pristine farm house. We don't own a tractor, but we do own two lawn mowers. On any given day, you'll find a porch full of feed bags, tools, and firewood. Sometimes, a bag of trash will have been ripped open by our porch possum and scattered about. Get the picture? We are not traditional cookie-cutter farmers. We work hard, grow food, and wake up with the rooster(s), but that is where the comparisons end. We turned our front yard into our 5th garden patch.
Traditional farming in the USA has become something of an antiquity. The food system has become dependent on monocrops and CAFOs, instead of small family run farms that have no debts to questionable companies. Though I won't speak to the politics and very sketchy industry that food has become in this post, someday I will try to unwrap that all for you. For now, we're going to discuss the impact that food freedom can have on your life and community.
Having a supply chain that is as close to home as possible has become a vital resource recently, and nearly a lifeline this year, as grocery stores emptied across the country. In our privileged position of having the ability to grow our own meat and vegetables, it was a non-issue. However, that was not the case for many of our friends. It was an honor to fill the gaps with grocery essentials, including eggs, vegetables, pork, chicken, and turkey.
Now that we have two feet firmly planted in the winter season, you may think that the dependency on imported vegetables is back in full swing, however this is not the case. Our favorite growing season is actually winter! It sweetens leafy greens into a palatable treat, instead of a forced side dish. Winter growing is not only possible, its easy with a little season extension and foresight. Everything below was grown straight through a zone 6 winter. This is food freedom.
As we watched people rush back to the more traditional ways of growing food, canning, and buying local, we saw the chains loosening. We watched people become far less dependent on "Big Ag" and far more dependent on themselves, as well as their new found farmer friends. Ground was broken and turned into gardens where once lay sod and carefully manicured lawns. People all over the world collectively replaced store bought eggs with rich ones from their own backyards. Limp vegetables that had been picked unripe in foreign countries were a distant memory as bumper crops of squash and tomatoes came in. One taste was all it took to see that this was the way things were meant to be done. Locally, with your own hands, and if that was not within reason, you at least met the person in charge of doing it for you.
Food freedom means that you won't starve if something happens to the grocery supply chain. It means that you have the knowledge of either growing food, or sourcing it locally from a trusted and reliable source. It also means discovering small growers, like ourselves, that can still provide a varied diet outside of the monocrops and inhumane meat sources. Our goal is to return the power to the consumer, and free people from the corn and soy trap. Providing nutrient dense and humane food, while also being at the ready to coax forth the confidence and knowledge for people to grown their own, is vital to us.
Sometimes, this looks like returning 2am text messages about which seeds to buy from where, and sometimes it looks like driving an hour when your friend calls because their chicken broke it's leg and they need help butchering their first animal humanely. More than once I've walked through cooking an entire chicken over the phone, as many of our customers are also in the throws of learning to cook from whole ingredients. At no point during these interactions have I thrown my hands in the air in exasperation, angry at the generational knowledge gap that plagues our modern, convenience based world. I consider each and every question truly a gift and a reward, proof that people are trying, and that I'm looked to for help on a matter that I am very passionate about.
Each time someone learns a new food skill from us, or tries a new vegetable that we've grown, I can see the ripple of food freedom slowly turning into a wave. What started as us wanting to grow food for our own home and freedom has turned into us becoming a hub of knowledge. We've taught dozens of prospective homesteaders how to butcher meat birds of all sorts, pigs, and goats. I've walked people through their first experience canning jams and broths, as well as their first gardens. Each time knowledge is shared, it causes infinite ripples of food freedom.
As we head into a new year, I encourage you to set the goal of learning a new skill that creates more freedom in your life. Canning, growing, butchering, and networking with local growers are all excellent places to start. If you'd like to learn more about how you can begin your path to food freedom, sign up for one of our pay-what-you-want classes!