Good Food Book Club: Weekend Homesteading

November’s book is the second in our short series on homesteading for delicious food and self-sufficiency.  The Weekend Homesteader: A 12 month Guide to Self Sufficiency by Anna Hess (Skyhorse Publishing 2012) offers tips and tricks to quickly achieve the delights of hand-picking mouthwatering food right from our own backyard—even if that yard is a tiny urban porch or small city lot.

This handy little book was born of Hess and her husband’s seven year quest for self-sufficiency in Virginia. It’s a gem, and not only for its crisp seasonal outline of doable projects so fun and straightforward you can’t help yourself from acting on them. It’s also a treasure for its social building-block approach to creating not just self-sufficient families, but as important, communities. One of Hess’s very first DIY projects includes making a map not just of your land or gardening area, but also, that of your community.

Who lives nearby? Is there a coffee shop that disposes of its grounds? What neighbors are aging and have gardens they struggle to care for? Might you wish to offer to take over their plot eventually? What neighbors might be willing to save their food and yard waste for you so you can use it to build rich soil and return the waste right to the land?

And related, the tips are guided by an overarching respect for the harmony of the land and its living inhabitants, human and otherwise. Proven permaculture techniques and culture underlie Hess’s every decision and project suggestion. Thus, her approach and projects will not only encourage your land to heal, and to thrive with excellent food production, but also to build community beyond the yard, too.

Here are a few examples of weekend projects outlined for various months. As you can see, even in the “slower” fall and winter months, Hess’s projects inspire both community resilience and self-sufficiency:

October:

  •   Quick hoops
  •   Storing vegetables on the shelf
  •   Scavenging biomass
  •  Apprenticeships

November:

  • Garden rotation
  • Roast a chicken
  • Storing drinking water
  • Diversify your income

December:

  • Plant a fruit tree
  • Soup
  • Essential tools
  • Stay warm without electricity

As an online synopsis says, “You won't be completely eliminating your reliance on the grocery store, but you will be plucking low-hanging (and delicious!) fruits out of your own garden by the time all forty-eight projects are complete.”

Knowing we are in the midst of what is perhaps the largest revolution in food systems humanity has seen since the invention of agriculture, stories and handbooks of self-sufficiency become vital tools of healing, hope, and action as we move into a new era. Please join us to discuss The Weekend Homesteader: A 12 month Guide to Self Sufficiency by Anna Hess on Sunday, December 4 from 6:00-7:30pm at the Moscow Food Co-op (Note: by group request, we’ve moved this meeting to early December in honor of the Thanksgiving weekend in November). Remember to email bookclub@moscowfood.coop to receive email reminders about the Good Food Book Club. The Weekend Homesteader is available through your local library. If you are interested in buying the book, check out the area’s local used book stores or visit Book People of Moscow where Book Club members receive a discount. For more information about the Good Food Book Club, check out the Outreach section of the MFC website at www.moscowfood.coop.