Monday, March 24, 2014

Bring on the Challenge

I’m all home, resettled, and refocused. As part of refocusing, we are looking deeper at self sufficiency, right where we are. Which, in the suburbs, means… what? We kinda drew a blank on what further efforts we could pursue that don’t require massive dumps of cash. So, we looked at what we are currently doing for inspiration to dig deeper.

Dig. Deeper. Eureka, that’s it! We were getting ready to plant our vegetable seeds for the year. What to plant, how much to plant, where to plant. Oh yeah baby, here we go. We decided to jump right off the deep end – into some large amounts of healthy dirt. Let’s go bonkers & plant enough vegetables to last the summer… and maybe into the winter? Ambitious? Yes. Doable? Absolutely.

We wondered how far we could take it. Could we really manage all summer? No problem. We planted seeds for 21 tomato plants, 24 pepper plants, squash galore, radishes, lettuce, Brussels sprouts, cauliflower, corn… Yep, summer is covered. But what about winter? Can we make it last? Can we preserve it in methods that remain delicious all year long? I say Yes! I hope. Oh what the hell, let’s see what happens. So here we go.

Seeds – check. Shelving – check. Lights – check. Great, seeds are planted and ready to go. Now, where will they go? Our yard is a fantastic size. And currently full of shade or flowers. Ok flowers, tough love. Some of you will have to share space, others will have to go. So now we have a location. Part of which gets a bit soggy. *sigh* The challenges never end. Solution… Raised beds! Yep. We have designed a plan to allow for 250ish sq ft of raised garden beds. We decided on mixed materials – the center bed is going to be a horse tank (dear horse tank, I love you) and the surrounding beds will have corrugated steel roofing framed (like a picture) for the sides. Woo hoo! I canNOT wait!

That’s enough right? Super ambitious project that is more than enough for 1 year. But I wouldn’t be me if I stopped there. We are going to try and grow as much of our food as possible, but where would the rest come from? Enter part 2 of the great 2014 experiment. Thank you Barbara Kingsolver for help with the inspiration. (If you haven’t read ‘Animal, Vegetable, Miracle’ I highly recommend it.)

Drum roll please… What we can’t grow, we are going to make every effort to purchase locally or do without. Local being within 100 miles. Everything – meat, eggs, milk, fruit, veggies, grain (including the liquid kind… mmm beer). It will all be sourced local or we will go without as best we can.

We don’t really have a hard start date & we are still hammering out the details. What items are excused from the requirements? Why? Can we make other ethical choices for the excused items (like fair trade coffee)? How many excused items do we allow ourselves?

I will admit I was overwhelmed at the idea initially. But then we found a beef farmer 50 miles from here with 1 side of beef not reserved for the March slaughter. Yes please. We just got it delivered over the weekend. I am giddy with excitement that if we found 1 meat supplier close, there has to be others. Milk will be a challenge but the farmers markets are starting soon, maybe we will meet someone there that supplies milk. I'm working on eggs & I think I found a pig farmer nearby.

So here we go. Stay tuned for updates.


  1. I am super excited for you guys! This is truly awesome and I can't wait to see how it all unfolds! I think locally eating is so amazing!! I want to be better at it, and I might just do a tiny bit better if you keep posting! :) Also, the detergent has worked better for me now! YIPPY!!!!! Thanks for being so awesome, and for being willing to share!!! That's not always easy for many reasons. Luv ya guys!

  2. I read something once about people who tried a 100 mile food challenge. The single item they had the most difficult time with? Salt! Have to admit that salt is not the first thing that comes to mind when one thinks of which items would be difficult to source locally, but it was a biggie for them. Didn't salt used to be used as money because it was considered so valuable... or something like that? Anyhow, I think they were in the Pacific Northwest and ended up trying to evaporate sea water in order to get their sodium fix. Best of luck with your challenge - I'm hoping that your garden is much more fruitful than mine has been over the past few years.

    1. I believe salt (and other spices) will be one of our biggest challenges. We are in the midwest & don't have access to sea water or other salt sources naturally. Luckily we don't use much. For other spices, what I can't grow, I will look to buy organic & fair trade. Mountain Rose Herbs and Frontier Herbs are both good sources for bulk herbs & spices... that can be spread between family & friends, saving money, freight, and being ethical in the purchase.
      And yes, I believe it was traded as a financial commodity at one time due to its value.
      We are hoping for success with the garden, and if not, we hope others will have success so we can purchase locally.
      Thanks for the good wishes. Good luck to you too this year.