So, I’m obsessed with the idea of becoming (at least partly) self sufficient. Obviously there are limitations to how much a person can grow/source in the city but I’m thinking that with what I can grow, and what I can barter for I should be able to get close to 50% within a few years.
This isn’t new (see this link) but it’s still interesting – if only because if you follow me you can probably laugh daily at my naievete, mishaps, pigheadedness and of course my usual inability to face the facts.
So, here are the food production ideas I’m looking to focus on, in order of priority:
- Garden: raised beds, polytunnels etc. for 50% of our backyard space. Fruit trees, fruit bushes, play space and deck in the rest.
- Chickens: going to build a coop that can sit on the raised beds. I will rotate it around every year to fertilise a new bed each year. For more info on backyard chickens in Vancouver look at: http://www.villagevancouver.ca/ and http://www.backyardchickens.com/
- Fishing/Seafood/Crabbing: I need some instruction here. I’ve never fished before in my life. I haven’t even started researching this, but I know I’ll want to catch the crab season early July and the salmon spawning season in August for sure. I would like to look into scallops, mussels and oysters too.
- Mushroom Collecting and Growing: missed the season for this year (pretty much), but have been taking a photo of every mushroom I find so that when I get this book I can practice my identification in preparation for next year. There’s a mushroom guru at http://www.backyardbountycollective.com/ that I’d like to talk to before heading out next season, but even more exciting is that he sells mushroom growing kits for your own garden.
- Apiary (bees): waiting for the kids to be a bit older for this one. Nao at Beecause Pollination Project is the woman to talk to about doing this in Vancouver – and she rocks.
So, obviously food production is a major starting off point for me. Then I want to look into how I can barter for some of the items I can’t grow myself. Obviously I can’t have livestock other than chickens, and I’m probably not looking at getting bees soon. Some of the things I know I want to barter for are:
- raw milk/cheese/butter
- fruit (in bulk) that grows in hotter climes (peaches etc)
- organic, free range meat
I think that these are pretty lofty dreams, though, given that right now I’ve got nothing on offer. I know that I can produce a lot of veg in the backyard I have, but I also know that since I work 4 days a week I’m not going to be able to work it alone. I’ve invited a family and my father to share some of the space with me in order to see how much of a workload it is for this first year. This will put a big dint in what I have to trade, but it’s the responsible choice to make given my whole job problem.
To me another important aspect of homesteading is what you do with what you get. I see cooking, canning, crafting and storage etc. as skills an urban homesteader MUST acquire, and quickly. I’m confident in my canning and cooking at this point, and I’m working on my sewing and knitting, but I know that storage will be an issue here. I also know I have more crafts to bone up on. Two big ones for me this winter will be soap making and candle making. I don’t want to make crappy soft soap, and I don’t want to just roll up some beeswax sheets so I need to get to work pronto on researching some good books for my library.
So, my next post will be a catalogue of the sorts of the books I would like to purchase to start my urban homesteading library. After that I’ll start on task-specific posts. Hopefully I will be able to get some good shots and video so you can laugh at me in full colour (and high-def). Look forward to Caitlin learning just how corrosive lye is!
I’m also new to Tumblr, and haven’t figured out if commenting is possible, but I really would love input/suggestions/feedback – so I’ve set up my blog so that anyone can anonymously ask questions or submit posts. Please feel free to speak up if you think you can help me avoid a stupid mistake, if you know a good book, or a nice person interested in similar stuff, or if you want to laugh at me with words.