• Post Reply Bookmark Topic Watch Topic
  • New Topic
permaculture forums growies critters building homesteading energy monies living kitchen purity ungarbage community wilderness fiber arts art permaculture artisans regional education experiences global resources the cider press projects digital market permies.com all forums
this forum made possible by our volunteer staff, including ...
master stewards:
  • Nicole Alderman
  • raven ranson
stewards:
  • paul wheaton
  • Jocelyn Campbell
  • Julia Winter
garden masters:
  • Anne Miller
  • Pearl Sutton
  • thomas rubino
  • Bill Crim
  • Kim Goodwin
  • Joylynn Hardesty
gardeners:
  • Amit Enventres
  • Mike Jay
  • Dan Boone

Self Sufficiency  RSS feed

 
Posts: 186
Location: near Athens, GA
18
  • Likes 6
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
I guess I am odd in that I don't find self sufficiency a foreign or impossible concept.  I grew up on old family farms that dated back to the antebellum and pre-revolutionary American Southeast.  Had my ancestors not been able to provide for their own needs in the eastern NC and SC swamps... I wouldn't be here.  I'd say that my grandparents and great grandparents grew about 90% of their food and firewood.  But, it was also a network of family farms.... resources were shared and traded.  My great grandfather was half French.  He raised hogs, had a smoke house and was a master of charcuterie, very much in the French tradition... made cheese, too.   He also kept bees and supplied the entire family with honey.  My grandfather was mostly Irish and almost obsessed with replicating Thomas Jefferson's Monticello.  He created an edible landscape.  Nearly every square yard of his 40 acre homestead held edible crops and landscaping.  Livestock was integrated.  Small ponds held fish, snapping turtles and gators.  He even had a remarkable nuclear fallout shelter, that he designed - air and water filtration, its own septic tank, food storage, fuel storage and electric generator.  He built his own house and did historic preservation as a brick mason for the state.  He built and ran his own sawmill, farmed land for timber.... invested in huge tracts.   He was a giant of a man and as close to being truly self sufficient as I can imagine.  Meanwhile, my afore-mentioned great grandfather and my afore-mentioned grandfather's father both owned/ran country stores in addition to farming.  There were things they could not produce on their own farms.... and that did not include liquor... they had stills.   So, once they realized the profits othersw ere making trading, they began small stores of their own.  They both did very well selling their excess vegetables, meat and timber in those little stores.  One went into building houses for others - made a comparative fortune as a home builder and land lord.  The other rolled his profits into more land.  Hunting and fishing supplemented the diet..... but, we are talking about families of 15 kids!  People these days question whether or not they could support 2-3 on 2-5 acres..... my grandmothers cooked for small armies.... the kids all had responsibilities of helping out...  and nothing was store bought save flour, sugar and a few spices.  But then, another family member had a mill and ground grain "on halves" - local farmers brought in their grain... half was ground and returned to them and the other half was taken in trade to be sold.  My grandfather grew sugar cane and set up his own cane mill.  Timber tobacco, cotton, fur trapping... and sometimes, liquor, provided cash money.  Even doctors took meat and veg in trade for care.... but, doctors were a last resort after ever grandmother's home remedy.  Do not doubt that it can be done, but it does take family/community.  No one man or woman can do it all.  That said, I have known hermits who did all they needed for themselves.... few people now'adays would wish to live like the, though.
 
pollinator
Posts: 1130
Location: Big Island, Hawaii (2300' elevation, 60" avg. annual rainfall, temp range 55-80 degrees F)
173
books forest garden rabbit solar tiny house woodworking
  • Likes 3
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Yes, it is still possible to return to self sufficiency, and in my own case, it took commitment to working within my community network. I trade and barter within my community. I also sell produce and services. Plus I give freely some of my surplus, at no charge, to those in need but who cannot afford to pay. I normally ask for something in return when it's more than a one time exchange, such as having that person save me their kitchen garbage, give me the weeds that they've pulled out from around their house, give me the rocks they've removed from their garden.....that sort of thing. I take just about anything and everything in exchange. Over time this system has developed beyond rocks and weeds. I get hunters dropping off not only their waste, but a shoulder, loin, or rump off of their catch. I have fishermen giving me waste but also whole fish. I get gifts of baked goods, assorted hardware and hand tools, blankets, coolers, buckets, chickens, ...you name it.

I try to keep most of my money in my communithey....both for services and goods. But too often I have to buy items via the Internet simply because they are not available within my community. But mostly the people I know can fix my truck, bring a truckload of gravel and spread it on my driveway, dig a cesspool, mill my logs into table top slabs, help put up fencing, excavate for a new pond, etc.

I've come to believe that self sufficiency doesn'thave to mean that one person going it alone. I think that's a fairly severe interpretation. In the old days, people considered themselves to be pretty self sufficient, but they of course interacted within their community. I like that definition of self sufficiency better, living independently but as an active, participating member of a community.
 
pollinator
Posts: 192
Location: Sask, Canada - Zone 3b
39
  • Likes 2
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Good write up, WJ. I think it's better to aim for self-sufficiency than to just say "but going to the store is so convenient". At the very least, being able to maintain the basic functions of one's own life seem to be in a person's best interests.  With that thought though, many people deal with extremes far too often, which I think Su Ba hinted at. Pretty much all my one time purchases, such as speciality hand tools, I buy online and I see nothing wrong with it as there are no good quality, local options available.

2 ideas from your post I'd highlight are:

Trading and Bartering

This is a foreign concept in many Western countries now. The typical mantras are "buy low, sell high" and "find the best deal (for you)" - entire TV shows are even based on these concepts. There is rarely a "win/win" mentality talked about. I'd even say a bit of the Online e-commerce have made people forget about bartering or find it's not as good as maximizing profits. In other parts of the world with bazaars and markets lining streets for miles and open daily, haggling and bartering are concepts people are very accustomed to.

Production Capability - Processing Machines

Saw Mills,. Stills, Grinders etc. I am baffled at how people(especially in cities) don't want to be part of buy-ins for machinery - farmers understand the benefit and do it all the time. I'll give an example: my grandmother was a cook and rescued an old small professional deli slicer from being thrown away a few decades ago. After she retired it travelled around in a box until I unearthed it one day. People here are spending $5 for 150g of single packaged deli meat. The first thing I did with that slicer? Cleaned it a bit and then went to the shop and bought about $30 of discounted ("old") packaged ham. 2 hours after arriving home 11kg of ham had been cut, packed and put in the freezer - that was a year or 2 out of highschool, and I felt like a king for several months lol.

The point of that story being, a similar deli slicer of good quality is $600 today, why wouldn't 3-4 families go in on one together? Many times, I hear the excuse "what if someone breaks it?". My grandfather has an answer for that. He shares a very large meat grinder with another family and once a year they get together and butcher a pig to makes mountains of sausages. You get the old teaching the young, and in the company of others, everyone involved is going to treat that grinder like an heirloom treasure. It's never been damaged since it was purchased.

---

We have plenty of wind here, I'd love to set up an old style dutch windmill for grinding grain - even a small one. I recently found out there is even someone around growing traditional wheat and there is someone who wants to get into baking. I go batty most days thinking that I'm the only one around here who wants to connect all these dots. (i've pitched a few ideas, but mostly only get a raised eyebrow or a "you build it and I'll use it" reply)

People can work together, everyone can get what they want and we can all have better lives. It seems that the main factor holding a lot of people back from doing so is that first unknown step.
 
Wj Carroll
Posts: 186
Location: near Athens, GA
18
  • Likes 1
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
One thing that is done, but all too rarely, here in the states is for community colleges/technical schools to provide commercial kitchens for community uses, along with training workshops.  Where these are offered, it really helps foster independent businesses.  Regulations are very, very high in most states, effectively pricing many people out of starting a food based business.  Also, I think most agricultural extension agencies still offer workshops on gardening and canning.  You have to seek such things out though - they generally don't advertise.  4-H and Future Farmers are great programs for kids, but they have become very hard to find in many communities.  There is a huge need for churches and civic organizations to institute community gardens, and not just for food.  Families are so broken these days, that our elderly are often abandoned and neglected, single mothers often do nothing but struggle to make ends meet and the kids have few opportunities to learn the skills of their elders.  Initiatives to bring them together could be very important.
 
pollinator
Posts: 4339
Location: Anjou ,France
240
  • Likes 1
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
WJ thats a wonderful  idea . I have often been asked about selling my Jams and chutneys But the cost of having a commercial kitchen puts me off .
As for gardens "incredible edibles are a really good idea https://www.incredible-edible-todmorden.co.uk/

David
 
Posts: 170
Location: Denmark 57N
8
  • Likes 1
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Here in Denmark if I want to use a commercial kitchen I can hire the Schools teaching kitchen, it is not ideal, having 8 "normal" cookers rather than the larger commercial versions but it is licensed and very cheap, if it's being used for a community project it's free. Our village has a facebook page and if you want a tool for a couple of days you just ask, someone will have it, payment will be wine or beer or something similar. It's very normal round here to swap, taxes are so high we all bend over backwards to avoid them, I got my car serviced for a months worth of vegetables. Even on the sales pages you see things up for sale for a packet of sweets, or a case of beer. When your plough breaks.. go ask the neighbour, especially if you broke it ploughing his field.. *cough*

As to the amount of land you need, to survive you do not need much, to have enough to buy things you cannot make you need a lot more. 1/2 acre will easily give you all the veg you need in my climate, and that includes potatos. it might keep a pair of chickens going too, but it wouldn't be a fun diet.

Denmark has some lovely rules. for example so long as I keep my total sales under $7800 and only sell from my property I can make jams and pickles in my own kitchen with my own produce with no regulation. I can sell raw milk from my own cow (up to 80L a week) I can keep up to 30 chickens and sell the eggs to friends. BUT as soon as you go over that amount, then the rules hit, commercial kitchens, nutritional information, salmonella vaccination, pasterurisation... oh and 25% tax on all products.
 
Posts: 11
Location: Ozark
duck fish tiny house
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Nice Written. WJ that's a wonderful idea.
 
I would challenge you to a battle of wits, but I see you are unarmed - shakespear. Unarmed tiny ad:
Food Forest Card Game - Game Forum
https://permies.com/t/61704/Food-Forest-Card-Game-Game
  • Post Reply Bookmark Topic Watch Topic
  • New Topic
Boost this thread!