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.
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I’m a 57 year old grandmother of 9 beautiful – and very often, hungry – grandchildren ranging in ages 3 – 13. All three of my children and their spouses are doing a fine job of raising them. One of my children and her husband own a home and are as stable as anyone can be in this economy. He owns and operates his own business and she is a stay at home Mommie who is very involved at school. They are my “all American” family, so to speak. Then there are my other two children. They rent, and barely get by paycheck to paycheck. They are both disabled. Their spouses work, but it is very difficult to make ends meet for them. Each of them do odd jobs and bring in extra cash when possible (handyman type work, babysitting, running errands, etc.) but it is still quite difficult for them none-the-less. My husband and I have no mortgage or vehicle payments, have a small country cottage, and my husband has an upper-end blue collar type job.
So, based on all of these facts, I decided last year to try and start preparing for a “rainy” day. I cleaned out two big closets in our tv room and they are now storage for canned foods, dry goods, staples, spices, sugar, flour, etc. etc. I love opening the door and just standing there looking at the beautiful things lined up on the shelf. (Until I did this I had not purchased canned food for many years since my own kids were little.) When I see it it reminds me of my grandmother’s house. She did her own canning and her shelves looked like the ones I see on your page, but I still get a sense of happiness (and security) because I know that I can feed my grandkids and kids if push comes to shove.
I also bought about 3 months worth of the long-term storage foods, and have that stored in another closet. I also bought 6 blue water barels, but have not filled them yet. I need to do it soon because in our area they have put us on notice that April 1 we will go to phase 2 water rations and won’t be able to fill pools, hot tubs, clean the driveways, etc. So since they will be monitoring our water usage more I better get that done this week!
My best thing so far to do in preparing for harder times is that I bought an excalibur food dehydrator, a canning pot (I don’t know what it is called), a big blue cold canning pot, and about 200 jars and lids. I got quite a few how-to books since I don’t know how to do anything.
I bought two big things filled with long term storage seeds. I am a plant murderer, so sure hope it doesn’t come to my having to grow our stuff for a long time. I’m planning to try and grow some seeds of some kind this spring from seeds at the store, just for practice and learning experience.
Even though I have a very long way to go in preparation, I still feel good that I have at least been able to do a little. My kids already shop in my closet, actually. So I am having to restock. It is good for me to learn how to use the older things first. I don’t actually eat the stuff in there, and hopefully, won’t ever have to. But I’m ready for at least a few months if it comes to that…
I am too easily overwhelmed by what needs/should be done … I rather like this idea, where you look more at what IS accomplished, rather than focusing on a “to do” list …. for me it would be “encouraging” rather than “discouraging”!!!
Thanks for the idea … I may apply it to more than “food” !!!
I like the idea of recording it on your sidebar. Perhaps that would be a good way to keep track of your R4A data, too?
Praying for Rick’s dad (and all of you) today.
I think I’m going to participate! This is already one of my goals, so it should give me that extra push!
It’s a great way to improve your own situation, I think, with encouragement, support and inspiration from others doing it. I am participating in a similiar one by an Australian blogger, Slow Living with a Monthly Blog Update… http://eatatdixiebelles.blogspot.com.au/2012/02/slow-living-january-2012.html
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