I am reading Eliot Coleman's book The New Organic Grower and at the end he asked the simple question, why? Why do you want to start growing your own vegetables or raise your own animals? He also explained that a teacher had told him long ago that if his background thinking was fuzzy, the whole plan would be too. That is when things clicked for me. I have decided I want to make a living doing what I love not what I have too, I have the potential for a small city garden and the raw 31 acres of rural land, to make this happen but the pull of the kids wanting to stay in school in the city, me working in the city on weekends and the time, resources and desire to live in the country, is just so contradictory. The internal struggle of how to make it all work, be satisfied and successful is so overwhelming and usually ends in me frustratingly putting everything off for another day. So this question of "why am I doing this?" has actually brought back much needed clarity.
This much is clear, the kids want to stay in school with their friends and even if they change their mind, it will change back. I work in the city on weekends and love it, so that too will not change soon. So what is left? Not much. I believe it was also Eliot Coleman (but it could be someone else, I read a lot of these types of books) who said it is better to work a small area well, than a large area poorly. So even though I did purchase the rural acres, I will focus on all the clever plans to work my city lot to the best of its ability, any time left over can be used to develop the rural land into something useful (things like fencing, clearing bush and salvaging fields to restore to their former glory). This all is the how, which till now has been my biggest focus but Why?
Why started a long time ago, I (like a lot of people these days) was extremely disconnected from nature. I took pride in the fact I didn't let mother nature tell me when to do things or what to eat. Now I look back and think what a fool I was. Mother nature (like all good mothers) doesn't dictate but only strongly suggest, yes you can drive in a snow storm or eat "fresh" blueberries in January but the results are not worth the battle, why bother? Why risk a crash or the lost nutrition and taste of out of season produce. This disconnect led me to be not yet sick but not healthy, I was young, active and relatively healthy, so why did I feel so crappy all the time? I started looking at the way I eat, it was bad, I didn't eat regularly and when I did I would reach for something sugary and processed. No wonder! I still struggle with reverting to this pattern today, but being aware of it helps me stop earlier and led me to become interested in gardening. I found that unprocessed foods didn't appeal to me, my taste buds where use to years of high salt and sugar items. To get myself interested I started looking at herbs and the rest is history.
I started looking into the health benefits of eating fresh whole foods and the never ending side effects of eating foods that would be healthy if they where not grown swimming in chemicals or raised on top of each other in confined spaces. I would get frustrated and overwhelmed wanting, no, needing to get healthy fresh food to heal and quench my body without adding more poisons. The conclusion every time was "I guess I will just have to do it myself to know for sure". The road for me has been a long one, to go from being so disconnected for the earth and seasons, to successfully raising each plant in its ideal conditions to thrive, is a huge learning curve and very humbling. I have learned to look at the subtle signs of the changing of the seasons, to really enjoy the bounty and benefit of each one. The first greens in spring, the flush of berries in summer, corn and pumpkins of fall and the warming soups from potatoes and squashes through the winter.
For health, as is for life, variety is key to balance and gives one the chance to appreciate and miss each experience. No blueberry tastes better than the one right off the bush in July, although the ones frozen that day will be second best later on in the winter. Following nature doesn't make us less evolved or weaker as a species, fighting our connection to the earth and ignoring our roots leads to sickness and an empty feeling. Embracing even a little bit of nature has proven to work wonders on moods and health.
So this is my why, the piece of mind that when I am choosing foods that can increase my and my families health, I am not also feeding them something that is hurting them. I don't want to out live my kids, as is the trend right now, and have their life full of medicines and health problems that take away from the quality of life they do get. A large portion of health problems can be greatly reduced by proper care of oneself, even if it lowered the chance of sickness by 1%, that would be enough for me. (The percentage varies greatly depending on the aliment, I would Google or ask your doctor for specifics, you will be very surprised if you haven't looked before). I would love to get to the point where I am not only supplying my families needs but that of those around me as well. I have found that I would be surprised just how many people would be willing to purchase food from me, they too have read the same things I have, although they have no desire to take things into their own hands, they would love to know the person growing their food and be able to ask questions about how things where grown when a new study comes out.
My Mission statement is as follows:
To work my city lot to it's highest potential and use any excess time for long term improvement of the raw land for the future. Now to make planning a reality, that's the hard part.