Saturday, March 7, 2020

Got Land?

Sssssoooooo I don't have any land, how in the world am I supposed to grow my own food?

This is a fantastic question and point, it's pretty dang hard to grow your own food if you don't have anywhere to grow it.  However what you can do is look at this situation from a different perspective and take this as an opportunity instead of seeing it as a disadvantage.  You can utilize the space you currently have and experiment with small scale growing in pots or planters.  If you live in an apartment or condo try growing a few things on your patio / balcony or in a place inside that gets some direct sunlight.  This is a fantastic opportunity to fail on a small scale, learn from your mistakes, improve your knowledge, try again and repeat.  Work on building up your knowledge base while saving up money for a house and / or land then when you do stumble upon a situation where you have land available for you to grow on you'll be ready for it and you can take what you've already learned, apply it to a larger scale, and you'll likely be more successful, even if you have yet to be successful with small scale growing (which is exactly what happened with me).

The Balcony of my Previous Apartment:
Twenty pots with plants on balcony
Attempting to grow a variety of vegetables

If you have friends who have a yard or land that isn't being used at all, talk to them and see if they'll let you use a portion of it.  There's also a decent chance that there's some sort of community garden in your area that you may be able to get a small plot in.  While this might not be a big plot and you might not be able to grow a lot in it, make do with what you have and again use this as a learning tool until you have a larger area available for your use.  There could be a local farm in your area that has a small patch of land that they're not using and if they don't have any plans for it they might let you use it.  There might be volunteer opportunities at your local farm or community garden where you'll likely learn quite a lot, very fast.  It's all about utilizing this time in your life, finding the resources to help you move towards your goal, and gaining a whole lot of knowledge so you're ready to move on to a larger scale when the time comes.

Speaking of growing your knowledge, plants let you know when they're stressed out such as: getting too much water, not enough water, too much sun / heat, too cold, etc.  Different types of plants give you different types of signs (droopy leaves, leaves turning yellow, etc.) depending on what's going on with them.  Picking up on these signs isn't terribly intuitive though (at least it wasn't for me) until you have a few seasons under your belt and even then you'll probably still have the "I have no idea what I'm doing" feeling.   However at the very least, you can then recognize that something isn't right with your plant(s) and you can use Professor Google to help you figure out what's going on to quickly correct it.  It's much easier to get used to reading plants and picking up on these signs on a small scale and with a few different types of plants (since different plants give you different signs) then move on to a larger scale.  

I would still grow more plants then less (if you have the means to) even when starting out for a variety of reasons.  Starting on a larger scale, you're definitely going to have a sharper learning curve at the beginning than someone who's starting with say five plants.  However, the person with five plants has much less room for error.  If they screw something up, their five plants can be gone in the blink of an eye.  If you have fifty plants, your room for error is much larger, you'll probably still screw up just as much as the person on the smaller scale but your learning opportunity is that much bigger since you have more plants to learn from.  Even if you screw five of your plants up, you still have forty-five plants left!  Plus as I mentioned before, different plants give you different stressor signs.  If you have more plants, you'll likely have more of a variety of plants, and you'll learn what these stressor signs are in more types of plants, quicker.  On the flip side of this, taking care of five plants is going to take a lot less time than caring for fifty plants and you'll still learn a lot of the basic knowledge that you'll need.  Both ways have their advantages and disadvantages, just start with whatever resources you have available to you.

If you start on a small scale or you don't currently have a scale, you can take this opportunity to learn more about the food system and different cultivation methods.  Once you find a local farm you like and you want to support you can talk to that local farmer to get their insight on these topics (and lots more).  Then you can use all of this knowledge to figure out what type of food system you want to be a part of, what do you want to support, and how do you want to grow your food when you're able to.  You can then learn more about soil health, regenerating the environment, carbon footprints, etc.  Basically expand your knowledge while you have the time and get a picture in your mind of what you want to accomplish, then work towards that goal.

It's very easy to look at living in an apartment or condo as a big disadvantage and think, "well there's nothing I can about it right now so I'm just going to watch a bunch of movies and shows."  There's almost always a different way to look at things and you can flip this thought around, use it as a motivator, figure out what you want to do in the future, gain the knowledge that you'll need to do this, then work towards that goal!

Educational Books on Display at Farm Event:
Educational books on table
Ollin Farms Event on the Farm

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