Last week, Sharon Astyk announced that she’d be bringing back her Independence Days Challenge. Whew! I was excited about it! If you’ve read my blog for more than a year, you know, I’ve participated in her challenge since 2010.
The challenge is to make small steps, every week, every day if you can, towards food independence. And then record them. There is no lamenting what you haven’t done, and in contrast to challenges where doing as much as you can takes the stage, the Independence Days challenge shows that small things do add up and everyone can do something.
The steps are recorded in several categories…
Plant Something: Planting isn’t done just once a year when you are looking to be independent. Sharon tries to plant everyday from February to October. Think seed starting, cold frames, season extension if you can. February is a bit early for us, but we already have potatoes chitting so we can be ready to go in just a few weeks.
Harvest Something: From your garden, your nest boxes, the finished compost, foraging. It all counts.
Preserve Something: In lots of parts of the country you can’t plant and harvest year round, including here in Colorado. So you better put up what you can for the dark days of winter! Canning and jamming, yes, but also drying, smoking, freezing, etc.
Waste Not: Scraps given to the animals and/or compost pile fit here. Also mending things instead of throwing them out. Creating less garbage, making sure things don’t go to waste.
Want Not: Building up your long and short-term food storage falls into this category. We bought a case of peanut butter, for example, or buying bulk grains goes here. Also, I’ve put things like cloth diapers or second-hand clothes in this category. Things that last and will need our needs over time.
Eat the Food: It’s tough to break the habit of buying a full menu’s worth of meals at the grocery store. You have to think and make an effort to use up the book you have stored. Eating from your pantry and your freezer, making full use of what you have. Trying new recipes falls here too. Eat what you’ve worked hard to grow and save!
Build Community Food Systems: Sharon sums it up like this: “What have you done to help other people have better food access or to make your local food system more resilient?” I include things here like gardening with the neighbors, giving talks about gardening, CSAs, farmer’s markets, sharing food with people in an effort to get them to take their own steps towards self-reliance.
And a new category (I’m so excited about this one) -
Skill Up: from big things like building a beehive or cold frame, to smaller things like starting seeds or researching new ideas. Record in this category what you’ve done to add to your own arsenal of skills.
Over the last two years, I have recorded our steps in a weekly blog post (see them all here). But this year, I’m thinking of recording them a little differently. Look to the right, over there in my side bar. I’ve decided to keep a running total over there. I’ll still post Independence Days updates, but probably less regularly than weekly. We’ll see how it goes. I’m flexible. But I like the idea of watching it all add up in one place.
I’d love it if you decide to join the challenge too. I really like seeing the small things add up.
For more info on the Independence Days Challenge, make sure to read Sharon’s post.