We are living in times of created scarcity.
Each reveal spots our vulnerability.
Food is essential – and we all know why.
Food can be used as a weapon – and we understand how.
Food is a tool to awaken us.
Food activates power.
Food is a gift that is shareable.– Dovanna Dean
Are you are looking to start a garden from scratch, re-thinking your current garden, or realizing you need a long term plan to keep food on the table and in your pantry?
Farming with your fork is creating a demand with each bite for the crops and livestock we want on our table but most important HOW they are raised. It’s a powerful and simple action that bonds families and communities and solidifies self-reliance. Farming with your fork also becomes part of your self-care regiment. I’m applying these actions into my daily “to-do chores” and it has become a lifestyle. By sharing these steps my goal is to inspire you and yours to become activated at your own rhythm.
Let’s begin this beautiful journey.
EXPLORING MY 5 STEPS TOWARDS FARMING WITH YOUR FORK
1. IDENTIFY YOUR GOALS FOR YOUR SPACE.
Create your site plan to get clarity about what you need from your space. Ask questions like do you want to compost? Should you invest in an irrigation system? How can you extend your growing season? Is it best for you to start a garden in containers or in beds? Do you have space to store the bounty of your harvest?
Asking questions provides direction and focuses your energies towards reaching your gardening goals.
Look around… You may be surprised at the under used spaces you have access to use. Talk to family, neighbors, and community groups who may have unused spaces along with resources and develop partnerships. Work out mutually beneficial relationships. Look into tool sharing collectives, seed saving groups, and start reading to expand your knowledge and build your confidence… I enjoy reading seed catalogs because seed companies want you to thrive so they offer an abundance of tips and resources.
With more space there is no limit to what you can nurture and learn to grow.
3. CHOOSE YOUR CROPS & LEAVE NO SPACE EMPTY YEAR ROUND.
Resist the urge to start a massive amount of seeds at one time. Instead get on a schedule to start seeds every two weeks for a staggered harvest. Most important is to always plant in season – do not start tomatoes at the end of summer and expect successful growth as the weather gets cold. If plants are started out of season much of their energy is used up working to combat unseasonable weather like cold, heat, rain, or drought. The plants are left with less energy for balanced growth and can become prone to diseases and insect attacks. There are many products and tips to extend your growing season. Grow a vast variety of veggies and herbs. Plant fruit trees and berry bushes. Grow all kinds of potatoes. Try growing grain crops like amaranth and beans you can dry and eat past the harvest.
This strategy ensures you are eating garden fresh year round.
4. REACH OUT TO LOCAL FARMERS, RANCHERS, AND FOOD PRODUCERS.
While you are setting up your garden and realizing your “green thumb” support the work of small scale farmers, ranchers, and food producers.
Next time you get to a farmers market start collecting names and numbers and keep connected. Also ask if they need help harvesting or planting in exchange for yummy farm grown goods. Another priceless bonus from this action is that you get to take a day trip with the family and experience farm life.
In the same spirit, seek out small scale ranchers to support their efforts. Negotiate the possibility of purchasing an entire cow, goat, or pig raised on their ranches. Team up and share the expenses and all logistical tasks with other families.
Keep in contact with small scale/local food producers like bakers, cheese makers, bee keepers, prepared foods, etc. In the event farmers markets are stopped you maintain a line of communications and you keep their passion of producing local foods alive.
Supporting the works and efforts of these small businesses creates a strong demand for their goods.
5. START A BUYERS CLUB WITH FAMILY AND FRIENDS.
In a buyers club, you work as a group to share the expenses of bulk items and yield buying power for good prices. Being part of a buyers club takes organization and a commitment of your time. In one buyers club I was a part of, we rotated responsibilities to give everyone the opportunity to know all the jobs associated with running the club. To avoid being charged delivery fees we worked out meeting the delivery truck at one of its super market stops. To make it extra fun we had pot lucks on delivery days so we could try new items. This was a great opportunity to experiment with new ingredients before buying.
Forming a buyers club puts you in direct contact with suppliers and enables you to be an active participant in the supply chain. You become a link in the system.
5 steps to farming with your fork becomes a starting point towards food security and solidifying access to healthy foods. It does take work and collaboration.
Be creative and do not give up. You are on the path to farming with your fork!