Growing Your Own Food

The perfect time to start growing your own food?

Last week, I went to the grocery store for my weekly stock up on food. But when I showed up, I was shocked… Every single shelf was barren. Picked over. No berries, no bananas, no cabbage. No bread, no eggs, and no meat. Was this is it? Had the supply chain shortages really gotten that bad??

After a moment, I remembered the storm (if you live pretty much anywhere in the continental U.S., you were hit by winter storm Landon last week). You probably hit the grocery store before the storm hit as well (either as part of your weekly routine, or to grab some last minute bread, milk, and TP), and your shelves were probably empty too. Here in Indiana, some stores actually ran out of snow shovels… Not great, considering we got well over a foot of snow in Fort Wayne!

Even though the storm passed and shelves are stocked again, I was pretty bothered by the fact that my mind went straight to those supply chain shortages. It’s a threat that’s always been present, but experiences over the last few years have shown us just how delicate the balance is. So, what would you do if grocery store shelves didn’t fill back up? Where would you get your veggies? Your eggs? Your meat?

These aren’t scare tactics.

I’m not trying to be fatalistic, or fear-mongering, or any other of the buzz words we like to use these days. I’m simply taking an experience I had last week, and reflecting on that experience.

If last week’s situation wasn’t temporary, I would have been concerned and worried, for sure. But in that moment when I was looking around at all the empty shelves thinking, “This is it…” I didn’t panic. Instead, I thought of my local farmers.

There’s Myron, (a wonderful Amish gentleman who we get most of our salad greens and root vegetables from in the winter), Benji (a dear, dear friend whose been providing us with meat, eggs, and dairy for almost three years now – we actually drove to his farm during lockdowns when our farmers market closed), and Ben (he’s got the best chicken wings in town!). We are so lucky to have close relationships with our food and (even more importantly) the people who raise it.

But, what if?

We’re super lucky to have a phenomenal farmers market and community in Indiana. Being able to shop the majority of our food from 20-30 miles around has definitely spoiled us. But what if we lived somewhere else? What if we couldn’t afford to shop local? What then?

We’d look right outside our back door.

It’s time to step up.

Here’s what I want to emphasize. You, yes YOU, can grow your own food. It might take a little time to learn, and it might take some adjustments in terms of space and finances, but you do not have to be the “son of a 3rd generation farmer” (I love country music, I can’t help it lol) to do this!

Now more than ever, people are leaving cities and turning to small towns. They’re realizing you can’t always depend on Amazon, Walmart, and Target. Additionally, people are becoming more and more conscious of what they’re putting into their bodies. Maybe your parents and grandparents poke fun when they see you examining ingredient labels. But while things were all about convenience in their day, we know that quality and nutrition is more important. Whether it’s grass-fed grass-finished meat from your local farm, organically grown vegetables from your garden, or sourdough bread baked in your kitchen, the extra time and effort are worth it.

Take control of your food.

And at the end of the day, the only sure-fire way to be certain about anything is to do it yourself and with your community. Start fixing the broken food system. Start a garden in your backyard, on your balcony, or in your kitchen window. Even better, do it with friends. Decide who’s going to grow what and then share the harvest. You grow some lettuce, Susie grows some cucumbers, and Tom grows some tomatoes. Have dinner together and you can make a 100% homegrown salad that you each contributed to.

Taking control of your food can’t be done all in one day. It’s more important to just start. Start small and grow gradually. Before you know it you’ll be shopping from your local farmers market, getting eggs from your neighbor, and taking down a tree in your backyard to triple the size of your garden (we did that this fall!)

Learn how.

If you’re reading this and getting excited, then yay!! If you’re excited but feeling overwhelmed, that’s ok. I’ve got some resources to help you get things started from the ground (or planter) up – no matter the size of your space or budget.

Share your success!

Tag @sweetgumspot on Instagram or Facebook and share your successes! Starting seeds, baking bread, shopping at the farmers market, you name it! And share this article with friends so you can grow together!

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