Saturday, January 30, 2021

Looking Back and Looking Forward: 2020 in Review

"They Tried to Bury Us, But They Didn't Know We Were Seeds."
-Dinos Christianopoulos

Vegetable Bounty
Vegetable Bounty From a Single Harvest in August of 2020

That quote sums up 2020 pretty well, non-stop chaos that will hopefully bloom into beauty.  I'm optimistic that 2020 will be looked back on as a turning point in American history, perhaps even world history, for the better.  At the very least it seems to have jarred people awake to the realities of our world and has caused people to stand-up for what they believe in and to give those whose voices have been muffled by society a platform to shout from for everyone to hear.  Time will tell for certain though.  With how chaotic of a year 2020 was in the world, it was a surprisingly good year on the urban farm, in-fact it was the best year yet!  I grew over 700 lbs (317 kilos) of food, worked on improving my preservation of food and filled my deep freezers with enough food to last until I grow more food in 2021 (hopefully).  This year wasn't without its challenges, the potato harvest was fairly meager (but it didn't fail completely like I originally thought it had), the beet harvest was pretty abysmal, kohlrabi was non-existent, Brussel sprouts continue to evade me, the hanging baskets didn't get many flowers on them and stayed mostly green.  I thought I might get some Romanesco this year but the plants died in the frost in the fall while the heads were still very small (but they were there).  Then there's the corn, oh corn, I did get a few ears of good tasting corn this year but I don't think I'll be growing corn again.  It takes way too much water for what you get, the racoons will almost always beat you to eating it, and I can buy it from local farms for extremely cheap.  It does look cool, but I don't think that's enough this year to keep me attempting to grow it.  I'd rather utilize that space for more squash.

While I did get 700 lbs of food this year, I think that can be improved dramatically in the future, I bet I could get a literal ton of food out of my backyard if I really tried to utilize all of the space to its full potential.  Perhaps one year I'll find out for certain.  The composting experiment went really well this year and I'll be utilizing this composting method going forward to produce more compost, quickly.  This should boost the overall health of the soil and provide me with more nutritious plants and food.  The more diversity and health there is in the soil, the more that's available to the plants and the more tools they have to fight pests and diseases.  Don't think that I'm going to stop experimenting with composting though, I'll keep on trying new things to see if I can improve that process further.  Perhaps I'll find a whole new process that I like even better, the universe is the limit!  As of writing this, it is almost February, which is when I ran out of my preserved food last year.  At the moment I still have about one full deep freezer full of frozen veggies, 15 jars of pickles, 6 jars of kimchi, quite a few jars of salsa and pesto, several bags of frozen burritos and papusas, (made by yours truly with my very own veggies), 3 large pumpkins, 4 blue hubbards, 4 spaghetti squashes, 3 butternut squashes, 2 bags of watermelon radishes, 1 bag of carrots, 1 small bag of beets, and a whole lot of optimism that I'll be able to go until at least mid-summer on my current food stash.  Then I can hopefully repeat this entire process again and I'll be locked into a never ending cycle of having my very own sustainable food system located in the backyard of my very own house!  Not to mention that this very same food system is helping to heal the environment by trapping carbon within the soil.  Not too shabby for a one man show, eh?

I'm not one to do new years resolutions, making big changes all at once just sets yourself up for failure.  Even if you do achieve your goal, what's the point in limiting your potential with an end goal?  Shouldn't improving your life be a marathon, not a sprint?  Continuously making small changes throughout the year towards having a better life is the way to go.  Each small change you make builds on all of the other small changes.  In 2021 I'll be continuing my journey of breaking free from the food system and supporting local agriculture.  While I do this I'll continue making small steps to live more sustainably while also simplifying my life.  I'm going to be more intentional with time and not waste so much time on things that don't really matter such as tv and movies.  Those have their place, but not everyday, my time can be much better spent elsewhere, such as reading books, writing, yoga, meditation, qigong, looking through a telescope, meaningful conversations, etc!  I'm pretty good at planning out what tasks I need to do and what should be done.  However, I most certainly get fixated on getting those tasks done when they are scheduled to get done, which can result in a lot of frustration, especially when unexpected events get thrown your way (such as a bad weather day).  In 2021 I'll be intentionally trying to be more like water.  What does water do when a rock gets in its way?  It goes right around it of course, it doesn't even phase it!  Whether that be over, under, or around it, it gets by that obstacle and it just keeps going.  It seems that if you want to be successful and happy in life, being like water is key.  Take what life throws at you, make like water, and keep on going!  Enjoying this journey that we are all on, that is life, is where it's at so bring it on 2021, Lets Do This!!!!!!

Hey you can't stop this post there, what are you thoughts on the Capitol insurrection?

If you must know what I think about that, you should really just read "Equality: How is This Even a Debate?"  That will give you a pretty good idea where I stand on that.

If you're still not sure then lets just look at a few facts.  What happened at the Capitol on 1/6/2021 will undoubtedly go down in history books as a crazy, black stain of a day in American history.  I will certainly never forget that day.  I've found myself unexpectedly caught in riots and protests in other countries and I would have never ever thought in my wildest dreams that I would see something like that occur in my home country of the United States of America.  This wasn't just a riot though, this was a domestic terrorist event which was incited by the then leader of the United States in an attempted coup to overthrow the government due to the results of an undisputable free and fair election that he lost.  Those are facts.  Furthermore, in the latest election of 2020 just over 155 million people voted, a little over 74 million of those people voted for this very same leader.  This prior elected leader has been openly racist for the last 5 years, ran for President of the United States in both presidential elections on a platform of being racist, oppressing different groups of people around the country, literally separating asylum seeking families at the border and locking them up like wild, feral animals, not allowing them to talk to each other, then sending them back to their home country without their cases being heard for them to be murdered.  This prior elected leader of ours is a very hateful person, which is another indisputable fact, and 74 million people in this country voted for him knowing this.  74 million people voted to oppress people and families in their very own communities voicing their opinion that their neighbors should not have the same rights that they themselves enjoy.  74 million people voted for asylum seeking families to be murdered.  74 million people voted to make the rich richer and the poor poorer.  When you put it that way, it really isn't shocking at all at the events that happened at the capitol on 1/6/2021 and it's actually shocking it didn't end worse because this country obviously still has a very big problem around equality.  The only difference is now this has been made acceptable behavior by not only the prior elected leader of this country, but the 74 million people who voted for him.  That is a very large portion of this country and this is a tsunami of a problem that very much needs to be addressed via education and conversations with one another.  Lets not pretend that this is something new, racism is very much embedded in the history of this country and it never went away despite what the history books say and what you learned in school.  This isn't about Republican or Democrat, this is about being a descent, kind, and caring human being.  We currently find ourselves at a crossroads, one path where this country ends up being the next Nazi Germany OR we redeem ourselves, learn from our mistakes, our democracy improves and we end up stronger and more compassionate than we've ever been.  I know which road I will fight to go down and stay on, what do you choose?

At the base of the Statue of Liberty is a poem by Emma Lazarus entitled "The New Colossus" it reads:

Not like the brazen giant of Greek fame,
With conquering limbs astride from land to land;
Here at our sea-washed, sunset gates shall stand
A mighty woman with a torch, whose flame
Is the imprisoned lightning, and her name
Mother of Exiles. From her beacon-hand
Glows world-wide welcome; her mild eyes command
The air-bridged harbor that twin cities frame.
"Keep, ancient lands, your storied pomp!" cries she
With silent lips. "Give me your tired, your poor,
Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,
The wretched refuse of your teeming shore.
Send these, the homeless, tempest-tost to me,
I lift my lamp beside the golden door!"

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