Friday, September 2, 2011

Ingredients for Self Reliance

Posted by Amy Baranski

Big-belly blackberry laugh.
Fruits from the urban foray.
It's the long awaited Urban Homesteading month! Besides working yesterday I kicked off the month by checking on my three gardens, and harvesting greens, carrots, squash, tomatoes, and a cucumber. In the evening I foraged for blackberries and picked a few apples from an abandoned tree. Later, I celebrated the first of the month by making garden salad out of home-grown ingredients and eating a homemade dinner with my blogging partner who had whipped up lasagna.

What do we mean by Urban Homesteading anyway? 

The month is about becoming more self-reliant while living in the city, a place designed for people to rely on public and privatized systems. So, how about trying to rely on ourselves for a month? This could be taken to the extreme, but I think setting and meeting small goals will more likely effect long-term change in my life. As my mother-in-law says: a goal without a plan is just a wish. So, here are some of my goals and plans to meet them.

Goal #1: Learn about homesteading
Baby Scarlet Nantes and my first cucumber.
Photo by Amy Baranski.
Plan: First, I plan to read 45 pages a day. Below I've listed four books--two guides and two narratives. If I blaze through these I'll add more. I will designate reading time in the morning before work and the evening before bed. Second, I'll attend classes. I'm registered for a canning class via the local co-op (thanks Melissa), and a class on Composting for Apartment Dwellers via Seattle Tilth and Seattle Public Parks. Third, I plan to talk with people. I have some brilliant gardener friends and family who know the A to Seeds of composting, growing, harvesting and preserving, there's much to learn from their experience. Lastly, I will do. I learn best through doing, so trying a few new things during the month will help to at least lay a foundation of knowledge about urban homesteading practices.
Book list:
Melissa trying to untangle the mess of yarn.
It was a rough moment.
Photo by Amy Baranski.
Goal #2: Accomplish daily self-reliant tasks
Plan: Making a daily commitment to a few things will help integrate a sense of self reliance into my way of living. Some of the daily tasks I've chosen are matter of habit already. Some are not. My plan is to bring more intention and understanding to each activity by keeping a daily log of these tasks. I will keep the log simple, indicating if the chore was done, at what time, and will add notes as needed. My daily commitments for the month are:
Daily Commitments 
  • Make meals--mostly from scratch, no purchasing of processed foods, don't eat out
  • Reduce energy consumption--less screen time, quick showers, turn off lights
  • Compost--all food waste makes it to the compost bin
  • Recycle--all recyclables make it to the recycling bin
  • Keep a tidy house--wash dishes, clean kitchen & bathroom floor, dust & vacuum

Greens from the garden.
Photo by Amy Baranski.
Goal #3: Complete larger monthly challenges 
Plan: In order to take on new and larger projects I will designate Sunday evening as my weekly planning session. I will list out the steps to each challenge and create a work-back schedule for two projects each week. The work-back schedule will go from Sunday to Sunday.
  • Make a compost system
  • Create a living wall
  • Preserve food: canning, dehydrating, freezing
  • Design & implement a garden plan to maximize growing space around the apartment building
  • Investigate & implement a water catchment system
  • Host a yard sale
  • Hand craft: sew, knit, make a book
  • Support the Urban Bee Company, my husband's beautiful project
That's a lot. I think If I stick to this plan some of this might actually get done.


Shawna said...

I'm really looking forward to reading your observations and insights from this month, Amy. Your plan sounds ambitious and wonderful.

Have fun!

Bob Redmond said...

That's a lot of stuff, Amy! I know you can do it... (good luck!). Also Shawna sent this link you might want to share it... Seattle Public Library is effing amazing!

Melissa Baumgart and Amy Baranski said...

I totally forgot to add biking, walking, and riding public transit for the reducing energy consumption bit. I'll have to update this post in a bit. - Amy