Winter doesn’t mean hibernation

Instead, get a fresh store of ideas and plans to make your life better starting in March of next year.

And I’d like to suggest some of your reading, while you’re enjoying the warmth inside your home, include gardening or small farm books. Why? Well, when the snow and slush are accumulating outside and you don’t really want to get out in the wind and coax a cold car into taking you to the grocery store, you likely start to think about raising at least some of your own food. Many folks do.

“If I had a garden,” they muse, “and put up fresh produce in the summer, I wouldn’t have to go to the store so often. On days like today, I’d go to my pantry and get something really good to eat and not have to get out in this.”

Read everything you can find in the library that interests you; borrow books from friends and neighbors. Some of the titles I’d recommend are old, but still being referred to by ‘Mother Earth News’ and other self-reliant publications. You can yet find copies of “The Backyard Homestead” which is kind of a small encyclopedia of farming on a reduced scale. It gives you an overview of what you might raise and how much work it takes to become self-sufficient.

Feel empowered to take a local food challenge with books like “Animal, Vegetable, Miracle” by Barbara Kingsolver or “Blessing the Hands that Feed Us” by Vicki Robin (very much like Kingsolver’s book – eating from a 10 mile radius and living frugally).

If you are feeling you want to take action, get inspired from ideas in “The Food Activist Handbook – Big and Small Things you can do to help provide fresh, healthy food for your community” by Ali Berlow.

Another good inspirational read is Mel Bartholomew’s “Square Foot Gardening,” especially if you’re living on a city lot but longing to have really fresh food. Bartholomew has a second edition out, too, his “All New Square Foot Gardening” which also tells you how to make the most of every foot your yard can spare.

And of course there are the old standbys, helping you plan and raise multiple vegetables and some fruit in odd areas in your yard. If you rent, you’re not going to plant fruit or nut trees and then move off and leave them before they mature. Containers, however, can go with you wherever you move, so that’s something to keep in mind. I still have my 1979 edition of “Gardening in Small Spaces” and read through it every once in a while.

Keep in mind, though, you can get carried away and let your ambition overrule common sense. (I call it the ‘Green Acres’ complex, after the old TV show of the same name, depicting a New York lawyer’s struggles to become a real farmer in spite of everything ranged against him.) I well know a small pocket-sized farm that began with just one man’s longing for a taste of home-grown green chile. The backyard garden started the whole thing … now, six acres, a roadside stand and a large tractor later … so bear that in mind. Your dreams can grow just like your plants.

Food for thought.

                                                                                       ~ Terri Jenkins-Brady
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