Celebrate the culture of agriculture & share skills (Growing! Cooking! Eating!)

This is something that I've been wondering about a lot as I see the site growing. I'd love to hear from you what motivates YOU to live this way? We know it's often not the easier or more convenient way to do things...Is it in any way a political action for you? Is the primary driver that it "tastes better"? That it is "the right thing to do"? What inspires you to go out of your way to live closer to the land and to the sources of your food?
Thanks for sharing!

(photo by Jill Clardy on Flickr)

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Well Cornelia for us it's pretty much all the above!! The food in the great U.S. of A. has become driven by $$ not health. The government has been controlling the farmers for so long now that people have forgotten what food really is. It's one of those things where once you start eating grass fed beef and organic veggies, these industrialized "foods" have no flavor and can not satisfy the soul. You learn that this is how it really is supposed to be and that food is work and love. I believe that when people make something themselves, they take more pride in it. I could go on and on, but all this talk about food is makin' me hungry :)
There are many factors that motivate me to GROW. The goal of self-sufficiency seems like a million worlds away, but every time i plant a fruit tree or improve my soil i'm taking a tiny step towards that goal. My family and I have been at this site for almost two years, and we've been working little by little to produce our own food. We have a three year old daughter and she really motivates me in a hard way to live like this. The threat of our current food source and it's tendency to be loaded with GMOs, pesticides, antibiotics, hormones, preservatives, and other "questionable" ingredients weighs heavily upon me as i watch her grow.

There are also many social institutions that have been nearly snuffed out by our current "conveniences." The most tragic, in my opinion, is the goldmine of knowledge that just two generations ago was commonplace, and today is nearly extinct. This is knowledge, by-the-way, that would keep us alive if said conveniences were to suddenly collapse upon themselves.

There are agricultural political battles, and i strongly know which side i stand on. Growing my own food, sticking to heirlooms, saving seed, and sharing knowledge (and seed and harvests) are ways we can all fight this battle in our own backyards.

Plus there ain't nothing in the world that tastes like a home-grown tomato!
I love gardening, foodmaking, crafting, repair, and other HOMEGROWN skills because they put me back in touch with nature and provide a certain sense of security and sustainability.

Instead of thinking of food as some inanimate object that comes from the store, gardening has helped me understand a little better the process of growing, shipping, and preparing food. After watching a tomato grow from seed to compost, I now have a different appreciation for every bite of tomato sauce or caprese salad. Understanding and taking part in the world this way has made my life feel richer and deeper.

Now that I am learning the basics of how things are grown and made, I feel much more confident and self-aware as person.

Plus it's nice to live a life that limits fossil fuel use as much as possible. I like dealing with political, environmental, health, and social issues on a day-to-day basis just by growing a garden and changing the way I am a consumer.
Mainly because I'm sick of the government pretending that it's concerned about food safety. It's only concern is how much money corporations can make. Instead of giving my hard earned money to the corporations I choose to grow/raise my own food which is much healthier than anything I can find in a store.
I've asked this question of myself a lot lately and I can honestly say I don't know. I just know deep down, in my heart of hearts, I'm suppose to be doing what I'm doing. I'm learning more and more with each passing day. I've taught myself to knit and make cheese and bake bread. I've learned to garden and start plants from seed and keep them alive through a full growing season. I will officially be a keeper of chickens within the next two weeks (hopefully rabbits and if I can talk my other half into it a couple of goats at some point as well!) This season I will learn to can and dry my harvest.

For me it's been baby steps. I live in an urban area that can sometimes not be very friendly to the neighborhood homesteader. I have a full time job, two kids and a husband that depend on me and I on them. I've come to this late in life but since I've started down this road I can honestly say it suites me!

People at my '9-5' look at me crazy when they see the title of the books I read (Keep Chickens!, The Radical Homemaker, etc) and snicker when they hear me on my cell with the hatchery inquiring about bantam and turkey breeds and I don't care.

For me it's very much a personal choice. A choice for me, myself and I. My family has been amazingly supportive of my choices and culinary experiments and have conversly enjoyed the fruits of my labor!

One day I hope to quit my job and be a full time homemaker in the truest sense of the word. To live off of my land, provide for my family using my own two hands. I want to be able to pass on to my girls all that I've learned and will learn so that they have a solid foundation to build upon for themselves and can be self sustaining and not depend upon corporate America for their bread and butter.

I worry about the economy and the corporate take over of our food supply but I don't let it guide all of the decisions I make. I know that I am doing what I can do to give my family the best I possibly can. I guess then the answer to the question would be that I do this because I know this is what I should be doing and it's what I want to be doing.
We chose to live this way for a variety of reasons as well. I must admit until our son who has some health issues came along My husband, daughter and I were junk aholics. Through our second child we learned how to utilize the 5 acres we have to provide for ourselves. The food is way better nutritionally, tastes way better and because we grow it we know what is not being put on it. We do all our own small fruits: strawberries, raspberries , blueberries, blackberries and have several fruit trees. Enjoy vegtables from a modest size garden and raise our own meat chickens and turkeys. Cost is a huge factor also. We are a family of 6 and can spend a minimal amount on food at the store because of providing our own.

I believe that we are only here for a small amount of time and it is our job to be the best caretakers that we can be of the land we have even if it is only a small amount. We so enjoy sharing our extras with those who are in need. What we sell always covers the cost of what we used and what we have shared with those who cannot afford some things.

The last benefit would be that our kids are always learning alot of science through these activities since they are homeschooled they have the opportunity for a lot of hands on learning with the plants and animals which they seem to retain better than I ever did from a book.
It's relatively simple actually,It's cheaper and it tastes better,Instead of spending $10 here,$20 there for gas to run to the local store to purchase vegtables and such,you dont have to really spend anything except to run to the local hardware store for fencing,seeds,etc.it cuts costs down by at least 50%,and you can also try to pair up with local markets and stores and make more of a profit but that is only if you can produce mass quanties of cheese,milk,butter,corn,vegtables,fruits,etc.
Thanks for sharing your thoughts, everyone. I want to encourage those of us who are integrating what HOMEGROWN type things we can into our lives, while still needing to source our food, clothing, products, etc. from others. There are very few of us who can be entirely self-sufficient...How does what you know about our food system affect where you get the food and products that you don't (or can't) produce yourselves?
I, for instance, subscribe to a CSA and shop from farmers I know whenever the seasons allow, because I believe in the integrity of those sources and feel like my money has more power in local hands. I choose to make some of my own cleaning products and cosmetics because 1) it's cheaper, 2) I know that the ingredients are safe and 3) it keeps those few dollars I would spend out of the coffers of greed-motivated corporations that I have little confidence in.
I also find an immense amount of satisfaction in creating things with my own hands - imaginative, sometimes innovative, often imperfect. It connects me to what I value in others and myself: Being a producer, rather than simply a consumer, being creative and, often, disruptive, rather than passive. When I am part of an alternate "system" of production, I feel more confident in the integrity and value of that system (however small and "disorganized" it may be). And I feel pride in my ability to DO IT MYSELF!
What about you?
I can say that we do not entirely eliminate the stores but we do make efforts to shop and trade product locally. We trade strawberries with friends who do a great job at growing corn and green beans. Having a group of people to trade stuff with has come in very handy!
The Amish in our area have a bulk food store that we purchase the majority of our flour and grains through. We have angora rabbits and will be learning how to spin so we can knit some fun items like winter hats and gloves. I make my own laundry soap and most cleaning products. I am not a purist.... I do purchase diapers at walmart. Our goal as a family is to keep the majority of our money flowing within a 100 mile radius....I would say that we currently are at about 80% with that goal.

I have several friends who do all there shopping with big box stores and complain about products they receive. Sometimes when I sew clothes for my kids it does cost a little more but the quality is better and they don't wear out as fast. I do subscribe to Freecycle and have given away many items as well as have recieved a handful myself.

We all have to make a choice on where our money goes and what it supports when it goes there. Every person or family must make those evaluations and then go with what they are comfortable with. I love raising my own stuff but would not make that choice for someone else. Being a good steward of what I have has been laid on my heart and love teaching and helping others who want to know more.
We live HOMEGROWN because we have exhausted the other methods and in the process lost who we were. We have been victims of the consumer conscience. We have been enslaved to credit cards. And we have been left empty. We have been bound to a life of paycheck to paycheck because of our choices. Something inside of us kept telling us there was more. And having both grown up in rural, homesteading families, we realized the "more" was actually....less. We realized that we needed to minimize in order to maximize. We felt that God was calling us to a level of sustainability our society has long since lost sight of in the name of advancement and progress. We are given one Earth and to my belief, one chance at living it. So with our newfound desire and our ideas of true stewardship of this precious gift - Earth - we choose to live HOMEGROWN. We choose to live for ourselves and the connection it allows us with others and with our planet.
It tastes better, and is a great learning process. I love growing things, working in the sun and dirt, and being outside on a cool day. I like learning about different food crops, my local weather, and all things soil - and then putting all that knowledge together to try and grow what I want to eat. I like the feeling of success when I figure out the best way to grow something, and then do it successfully. I like the lucky flukes of a bumper crop that came up at just the right time, to just the right weather, in just the right soil - even when I didn't think much would come of it.

It is cheaper, and ultimately more convenient. Being able to grow leeks, fruit, tomatoes, kohlrabi, sugar snap peas, etc, for pennies a pound instead of the much pricier dollars a pound you can find them for (IF you can find them!), is also very satisfying. You can grow many more varieties than you can find at the store, too. Plus, even if I didn't plan for dinner, I can always go outside and harvest some greens, sautee them up and put them on top of pasta - easy peasy.

It's useful, and allows me some independence from our unsatisfying food system. I have lived in my house for 10 years now, and the backyard was a barren wasteland - dirt and dust and weeds. Since I really started garden-farming 2 years ago, it has slowly blossomed into a space with a purpose: seasonal vegetables, fruit trees, compost area, and shaded seating area. We go outside and actually enjoy ourselves out there! It gives my very small backyard a purpose (producing food) other than being merely decorative and water-sucking.
Orginally it was all about economics, being able to put food on the table and clothes on our backs. Then living homegrown evolved into putting healthy food on the table. Now it's about choices, independance, and quality of life. Not to mention a deep feeling of accomplishment.

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