Only three weeks into 2021, still in depths of a pandemic, and another lockdown, many struggle to maintain hope, while others struggle just to survive.
Even the lifeline of Amazon/Morrisons that has been our most reliable source of groceries is beginning to struggle under the continued strains. From the beginning of this latest lockdown in December, I have had more difficulty getting a delivery slot. I have given up on Tesco. Only Icelands has remained reliable.
Yes, even for those who can afford it, access food, something we once took for granted, has become a challenge. And for those who have become unemployed, for families whose children’s were guaranteed at least one free hot meal per day, these turbulent times are even more uncertain.
As I catalogued in my special series last year, food security for ourselves, friends, and community has become a top priority at our @HomeCrazzyHome. 2020 was a real learning experience for me. As they say hindsight is always 2020.
Even though I had dabbled in #growyourown since my teens, overall I was disappointed in terms of outputs versus inputs.
- I spent thousands of pounds on containers, beds, compost, seeds, and more.
- While we managed to meet about 75% of our fresh vegetable needs from May to October, all the Mason jars that I planned to use for canning the surplus sit unopened in the basement.
- We were able to share some of the bounty with neighbors and friends, but much, much, too much of it went back into the soil as living compost.
- Of course, the biggest disappointment of all was my lovely maters that I had mothered so carefully.
So, as I begin planning and planting for 2021, I keep those things in mind. The good news, of course, is that this year, we need a far smaller investment. We have most of what we need, except for a modest amount of compost and manure. I have rejoined Facebook and a couple of local community groups. So, I am hopeful that between more focused effort inputs and better communication, there will be much less ‘waste.’ I’m not certain whether I will clear the dust off those Mason jars or end up repurposing them in the future.
But the realities of ‘urban’ homesteading and permaculture are beginning to sink in. What are those lessons from 2020? How will I do things differently this year?
More focus on small daily harvests
One of the reasons there was so much waste, both in terms of produce going off before it was eaten and the significant outlay of resources on those jars, is that small, urban gardens produce in a different pattern.
Instead of one big harvest that you preserve, there is a much smaller but steady output. I kept picking those handful of peas, waiting to have enough for me to can or freeze. But by the time I got enough, the first patches had gone off.
This year, instead of waiting for a large harvest that never comes, I am going to focus on collecting what is ready – each and every day. Rain or shine. That’s another lesson too…
Know your local environment
Like my maters, I am not native to this cool, wet, windy Welsh environment. My tastes in food as well as my tolerance for weather have been set for a different climate. But Dorothy, you’re not in Kansas anymore. Or in my case, Tara you ain’t in the South, no more.
Since it is unlikely that we are moving, I have to adjust. I have to plant crops that are more native to this environment, such as kale, peas, and other brassica. Not that I am giving up on my maters completely. But I am planting fewer and resigned that most will need to be kept in the conservatory rather than outdoors.
I also need to change my own habits. That little girl in her white dress, gloves, and patent leather shoes has to trade them for wellies, gardening gloves, and jumpers. I can’t look at those sheets of rain and say…I’ll do it tomorrow. Because tomorrow is probably going to be just as rainy. And by the time there is a sunny day, some things will be well past their prime.
Better to have those small daily harvest and to share the bounty. Which leads me to…
I am not a ‘people person.’ Honestly, I would not care if lockdown lasted forever. What little peopling I need, I can more than get online. The thing is…
If I want to share our bounty, whether that be surplus seedlings, produce, or just knowledge, I have to put myself out there. I have to connect with other people. That’s why I write, blog, and went back onto Facebook.
So, with those lessons from 2020 in mind, what are my #urbanfarm, #homesteading, and #permaculture goals for 2021?
1) To feed my family and live in line with my personal ethos – I probably won’t achieve 100% self-sufficiency even on those vegetables. This year in addition to those native varieties, I am focusing on the things that are becoming harder to find or at least quality ones. Lettuce and spinach have always grown well in this environment. While the difference is not quite as noticeable as tomato and mater, lettuce that has never touched plastic does taste better.
2) To promote a regenerative local community – That means sharing knowledge through this blog as well as seedlings. While some people may have gardens in which to grow their own, at least in a modest way, few have the benefit of a conservatory. (Two actually if I can figure out how to rearrange the utility room – again.)
3) To provide for others in need – That means sharing. Surplus produce as well as Those seedlings . We are incredibly privileged at @HomeCrazzyHome to have the space to grow so much. Having lived in a dinky two-bedroom London flat without so much as a patio, I consider it my honor and privilege (in the good way) to share that bounty with others.
4) To train/learn my craft. – Yes, I learned many valuable lessons in 2020, but I am far from done. Life is a never ending cycle of learn-do-make mistakes-learn some more.
But since it is one of those rare sunny days in Swansea, I better get off here and go put my time where my mouth is.
Until next time,
Goddess bless from our @HomeCrazzyHome to yours