Wednesday, March 4, 2009

I'm inspired!

My mom had told about reading this amazing story of a man raising thousands of pounds of food (in one year) on his tiny little lot in Pasadena, CA . I had been planning on checking out the website but hadn't gotten it done yet when I got an e-mail from Mother Earth News telling about it as well. I went and read the story and found it very inspiring. Jules Dervaes and his 3 grown children live on a 1/5 acre lot and use 1/2 of that (1/10 of an acre) they are able to use to grow things on. They now get an amazing yield of over 6,ooo lbs of produce a year! They are able to eat off the land and then also sell some of it in order to have the money they need to buy things they cannot grow.
They have a website called Path to Freedom which has information and inspiration for trying to do something like that yourself. I haven't had time to explore it that much yet but I am looking forward to doing that.
Reading something like that makes me think about how it compares with our lifestyle. We own 1 1/2 acres of land so we have way more space for providing for ourselves, now it is just to work at getting it done. Here are some of the things we have done towards living off the land:
  • We have a large organic garden. (probably more than 1/10 of an acre but I need to work harder to get the type of yields that he does!)
  • We have a strawberry patch (but my goal is to keep the chipmunks out of them this year!)
  • We have planted apple trees (4 are currently living-I think!) , blueberry bushes and lingonberry shrubs. We are waiting for them to get big enough to produce.
  • I have planted various herbs for flavoring and medicinal use. My big job here is to actually remember to use them.
  • We have been learning how to eat wild foods from our little woods, yard and garden and we enjoy that.
  • We have a compost pile that really works quite well!
  • We have a rabbit that is compiling some nice rich organic material to help our plants grow better this year.
  • I have a lot of flowers planted that help attract good pollinators.
  • I raise my own seedlings inside in the spring to plant in my garden.
  • I save some seeds.
  • I grow sprouts and some inside herbs and plants for winter use.

And here is some things that I really hope to do:

  • Raise bees (not only would this provide honey but it should help the plant production with good pollination.)
  • Plant a Raspberry patch. (We now have a spot figured out and we can get starts free from my parents, so I just need to get it done!)
  • Build a greenhouse. I think this would be so neat to have to be able to grow things year round.
  • Haul a lot more manure from my parents farm to put in our soil. Our soil was not in very good shape when we first broke in the garden 3 years ago (right after we moved, this is my 4th garden to start from scratch in our married life - that is if you count my little tiny one at our first apartment. I hope this is close to our last one!) A lot of Manure would really help the soil out!
  • Learn how to grow more things inside in the winter.
  • We are thinking about buying a banana and orange tree for growing inside and also want to start a pineapple plant. I am not to sure that we will have good success in providing fresh fruit but we think it will be fun to try!
  • Add more fruit and nut trees to our yard.
  • Be even more diligent in using everything that we do have.

How about you? Do you enjoy "living off the land"? What do you do to accomplish that?

Raising your own food is defenitely thrifty and incredibly green too! For more Thrifty Green Thursday tips visit Green Baby Guide.


Courtney said...

wow that is great all that you are doing and planning to do. I currently just have one raised bed but plan on really changing it up this year. I hope to add a few more and a compost pile. We have a large dog so I am also going to use some extra wood pickets we have to make a fence around it. I hope it will work out good for us, your blog and the blog you shared are inspiring to me!

Cathy said...

wow--i'll have to read that story--very inspirational!great you're getting so much use out your land. we have a two garden plots in our yard and some grape vines--we'd love to get blueberries.

Condo Blues said...

Wow! I'm really impressed! I'm taking baby steps when it comes to gardening. For many years I was too busy with other activities to add gardening to my list of hobbies. That's changed and I'm slowly dipping my toes in the organic gardening waters.

Condo Blues said...

Wow! I'm really impressed! I'm taking baby steps when it comes to gardening. For many years I was too busy with other activities to add gardening to my list of hobbies. That's changed and I'm slowly dipping my toes in the organic gardening waters.

miranda said...

wow, that is very inspiring. I do not have much of a green thumb in things like this. But maybe once I can keep a couple of plants alive I can move on to more adventurous things. I still have to figure out (and be proactive about it) what house plants are good for our area.

Joy said...

You've inspired me as well! We have a tiny 5x6 raised bed in the backyard and have planted tomatoes amidst our flower beds out front, but I want to do so much more this year! I've been fantasizing about planting dwarf fruit trees, building a few more raised beds, and making a sunflower arch just for aesthetic effect. I'm due on June 15th so I'm not sure how much I'll get done but posts like yours keep me motivated! Thanks for joining us for Thrifty Green Thursday this week!

Rebecca said...

I've been searching for gardening inspiration, so thanks! I can't believe that guy grows 6,000 pounds of food a year! I know you said he sells some of it, but still. . . . I just did the math, and my family of three eats under 400 lbs. of food in a whole year. I know this because we get a delivery of 15 lbs. of veggies every other week and rarely buy too much more. And I feel like we eat a LOT of vegetables, especially compared to most people. For example, here is what we have eaten for dinner in the past week or two:

leek tart
peanut noodles with carrots and red onions
pasta with broccoli, tomatoes, and feta
sweet potato cakes + salad
curried cauliflower with homemade naan
eggplant parmesan
potatoes au gratin + salad
swiss chard enchiladas

Many of those meals have made several servings, which we've eaten for lunches.

So 6,000 lbs. just boggles my mind! WOW!

Abbi said...

THanks to all of you for your comments. I love reading them and hearing about what everybody else is doing!

COurtney, A garden fence is really nice to have. That is cool that you have something to make it with. A fence was a neccsity for us otherwise deer would have eaten everything.

Cathy, You just reminded me that I want to get grapes too! In fact my Dad has some that I can get starts from I am just trying to figure out where to put them. I think they will be a good additon.

Condo Blues and Miranda, Baby steps work well. Just try a little here and there and find what works for you. Sometimes outdoor gardening can be easier than houseplants because at least the rain (generally speaking) waters it.

Joy, I hope your plans go well. It is harder when a baby is coming mid growing season but hopefully you have a lot of energy in your last trimester! :-)

Rebecca, That is very interesting to hear how much produce your family uses. I don't really know with ours and can't really think of a way to calculate it either. Your menu sounds yummy by the way!

Rebecca said...

Abbi, If you have a kitchen scale you could try weighing all the produce you use for a week and writing it down. Then you could just multiply by 52 weeks to get an approximate amount. Of course, you may not be inclined to do that!

I was just thinking that we do eat more produce than the approximately 400 lbs. of delivered veggies each year. We do use canned tomatoes and some canned and dried beans; theoretically I could grow all that myself. So let's say I use about a pound of canned or dried stuff a week--that adds just 52 lbs to my total.


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