Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Meetings, events, and learning, going outside the homestead for new perspectives.

So I'm going to start with a quick homestead update glossing over a lot over the past few days. The babies are doing well, the garlic is growing, kale, radish  and lettuce are planted though those haven't come up yet. We are hoping they do come up because we are really excited about gardening right now, partially prompted by going to a Gardening 101 class put on by "Grow Food Amherst."

The Gardening 101 class was more of a talk, and less interactive than I had hoped, but it was a great lecture that went through a lot of the basics of gardening with some really important information. Is it all information we can find in books, and probably have read before? Certainly. But you know what going to a talk about something does? It inspires you, depending on how you learn it sticks in your head better, and it gives you a chance to grab the person and ask questions! It definitely has helped inspire how we are going to be setting up our garden beds as we go in to spring. For one, the bed we had the tomatoes in last year is going to be modified to be more space efficient, and better looking. We are also going to be making sure we don't make any more beds over 4' wide. Dealing with one is hard enough, and we are going to be modifying that for the future. It also inspired us to find different ways of making short money go further that we are going to have to try.
Speaking of inspiration the other talk we have gone to recently was given by Annie Leonard the creator of "The Story of Stuff" which is both the project and a very good book. This talk while not directly related to homesteading was a really wonderful way for us to see other people engaged in the same ideals just from different directions. Annie Leonard in particular was exceptionally inspirational because of how engaged, hopeful, enthusiastic, and educated she is. She cares passionately about how our culture of waste is affecting our lives, and she believes that we can change it. She didn't directly address food, but she addressed a few things I wanted to talk about specifically.

She was talking about how there are three things that are really important to note about our whole system of consumption.

We are trashing our environment
We are trashing each other
And we aren't even having fun doing it

We are trashing our environment.
This one is fairly obvious, we are throwing away so much food, stuff, paper, everything. But more than that the production of the things that we throw away, or even keep is destroying the environment. You'd be amazed at how much waste is created in production, and it doesn't have to be! This applies in the food industry as much if not more than any other. If you don't think that the food industry produces toxics look up the damage down stream of farms, look up manure lagoons, and how much of the antibiotics used in the world go in to our meat.

Which brings us to the next point, trashing each other.
I hadn't realized just how much crap goes in to us through food, what's in our houses, and what is in our air from production. I don't have all of the data on this myself but she quoted that there are hundreds of industrial and medical chemicals in babies when they are born. We are poisoning ourselves with what we buy and what we eat. Listen through the movies (they're short) and read through the Story of Stuff, it's fairly enlightening about this side of the world. We at home think mostly about the food side of things since food politics is our focus, but the industrial model we live in makes these chemicals hard to escape.

And we aren't even having fun doing it.
More stuff doesn't mean more happy. That's very much something the Lady of the House and myself have been figuring out with moving in to our new place and focusing on homesteading. We have less stuff, but that's ok, we're trying to get rid of more most of the time! She was emphasizing that finding the right balance in the continuum of owning stuff is really the key because for everything beyond just the necessities you get less and less happiness per unit and eventually have to spend more effort having it than you get happiness out of it.

It made me really feel like by homesteading and reducing our stuff footprint we are making the right choice for our lives. We are happier though things aren't easy. We are eating better though we have less money. But there are things that it pointed out that we need to focus a bit more on, though it may not come up as much in the blog.

One of Annie Leonard's posts is The Story of Change which is a 5 minute video. She talks about flexing our consumer muscle and flexing our citizen muscle. We're good with the consumer muscle as a culture, and not so good with the citizen muscle. By focusing on buying less and making more of what we eat and consume in general we are reducing our consumer muscle. But we really need to focus more on the citizen muscle. We are starting to do that working with the Hilltown Seed Saving Network, by going to the Gardening 101 class,  getting involved in the community more, and going to these lectures. But I think that beyond just the planting, growing, harvesting, and improving around the homestead that the Lady of the House and myself need to focus more on the politics of food, stuff, and agriculture to really make change beyond the homestead.

If folks are interested in hearing more about that as well as just the animals and gardening, sound off. I'm sure it will come up from time to time, but how much we focus on it here on the blog will depend on how much folks want to hear.

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