Self-reliance is the only road to true freedom, and being one’s own person is its ultimate reward. Patricia Sampson
Ever since I planted and grew my first Tomatoes from seeds that my Mother gave me when I was about 10 years old, I have slowly begun to realise how powerful and important growing your own food at home is. Even if someone only has a four feet windowsill in their kitchen an area like this could provide you with salads throughout the summer, or around 4 large tomato or red pepper plants. Similarly those who have small backyard would be able to grow a surprisingly larger amount of food than they might have thought possible. If you are lucky enough to have a reasonably sized back garden then you would be able to grow a significant amount of food and other resources that would save you a considerable amount of money in an economy where food and all of our other human staples are constantly rising in price.
A little story
During the nineties I lived in a two up two down terraced house in Salford (Coronation street style) I managed to grow loads of food in its sunny South facing back yard, I made raised beds from bricks, and found soil and window frames in builders skips which I used to grow my tomatoes behind, by the time this back yard garden was up and running I was able to provide all of my salad stuff, huge amounts of potatoes that were grown in tyres and a diverse mix of herbs and vegetables throughout most of the year. When I did this I knew little about gardening other than putting seeds in pots, watering the pots and putting the pots in warm place where the seeds germinate, but this rudimentary knowledge was enough to grow a productive garden.
At this particular point, there was little in the way of paid work about, I had been skint and had struggled before but this time was different I had no paper money in my pocket but I had lovely food that I had grown filling my cupboards and fridge, and dozens of bottles of wine and ale sat under the stairs. Most of my meals were cooked on the open fire in the lounge after I ripped out the gasfire and opend up the old hearh underneath because I was unable to pay ny gas bills during these lean times, the irony in this story is that I cooked and heated the house using this fire and my gas bills went down to virtually nothing.
Why we all have to help each other to become self reliant
In terms of our food supply, at present we are seeing huge crop failures occurring in many parts of the world due to the effects of our changing climate, there were major losses in corn and wheat crops in many areas of the world during 2012, In the UK our own potato crops were badly affected due to the damp weather that created the blight problem which killed off a good deal of our crop. The food situation globally is not good as much of the crops that are dying form integral parts of our staple daily diet, there are no huge stockpiles and mountains of grain and butter as there was in the past, our food supply is quite literally balancing on a knife edge. As you would expect there is little being done by Political leaders to address this very seriously issue, however, there is a massive grass roots uprising in home food production going on across the world, there is the ‘Food Not Lawns’ movement in America, urban farms in the centre of Detroit, here in the UK Landshare helps groups to come together and share land for food cultivation, and there are dozens and dozens of community groups that have come together with the common cause of growing seasonal locally produced food on their doorstep, the is a large network of permaculture practitioners growing and spreading accross the country, and of course we could never forget the ore inspiring Inredible Edible projects where peope grow food in the town centres, outside doctors surgeries, schools, and any other land where food will grow locally.
Self sufficiency in Great Lever
Like everwhere else in Great Lever, there is generally a good spirit and some semblance of cooperation between many residents living in the area, this is the thread that we need to begin to weave from when we begin to sow seeds and grow our own food, medicines, cleaning products and other usable resources locally. As I mentioned in an earlier piece I wrote, we will be running traditional and useful skills workshops and training courses on the site of the old tennis courts in the grounds of Southfields Pub in Great Lever. We have just began our work on the site and have been busy making raised beds from wood donated to us by local firm Axefords who are based just up the road in Farnworth, we have also sown hundreds of seeds and will soon begin to make our shelter from recycled telegraph poles complete with a turf roof to provide extra insulation and a habitat for wildlife.
Once our shelter is up and built and our crops are in the ground, we will then sort out dates and times for our workshops and we can then begin this adventure into community self sufficiency. The next blog I will write will provide dates of workshops starting in the middle of June, I am really looking forward to sharing some of the useful skills with local residents that I have picked up over the years, and also sharing the skills that residents have themselves. Onwards and Upwards good people!