Right now, many people are questioning our food security. What if the stores can’t restock? What if the truckers can’t deliver our needed supplies? Or what if overseas shipping comes to a grinding halt? This is something that everyone should think about, and try to plan for.
Food security is one of the top questions in people’s minds during today’s current turmoil. Lots of people are out of work due to being “nonessential”. How will they afford to feed their family when the money runs out? Sure, the U.S. government passed a stimulus package, but when will we get that, and how far will that go?
I believe that the current global events could very well be TEOWAWKI (the end of the world as we know it). No, it’s not going to be the end of the world. But it is going to change. Is this good or bad? It depends on your mindset, and your skills.
I strongly feel that our unsustainable practices have led to a huge part of the problem. In recent years, there has been a huge disconnect between the general public and the humble farmer. Most people don’t really understand where their food comes from. Food is shipped thousands of miles to get to the stores.
But what can we do to protect our family’s food security? We can garden to grow our own food. We can reconnect with, and help support, local farmers and dairies.
No room for a garden?
If you live in an apartment, or don’t have much space for a garden, you still have a few options to protect your family’s food security. But how do you do that in a small space?
You can still practice self reliance. No Lysol or bleach available at the stores? Learn to make your own non-toxic cleaners. Shortage of toilet paper? Sew reusable bathroom wipes. No space for a garden? Grow an indoor garden, or grow sprouts and microgreens. Even if you only have balcony space, lots of food can be grown in containers. Any step you can take right now to be more self-sustaining is time well-spent.
There has never been a better time to reconnect with local farmers. These people are our neighbors, and part of our community. Many homesteaders sell their goods straight from the farm. Or you can go to the Farmer’s Market. Buying directly from farmers help them support their families.
Only a standard size yard?
What if you live in a subdivision, or have a standard size yard? Again, you still have options! Grow a garden in your backyard, or check into edible landscaping. Containers of food can be grown on a porch or along a sidewalk. Raised beds can provide removable garden spaces for renters.
Succession planting can give you a near continuous harvest of your favorite vegetables, and will maximize the space you have for gardening. Try growing multiple varieties of quick growing vegetables so you can potentially get 3-4 harvests in the same small space.
Learn to preserve what you harvest. Canning and dehydrating is great. And building a root cellar is wonderful, to store the longer-lasting vegetables to help you get through the lean times.
Chickens are sometimes allowed in subdivisions or on small lots. They don’t need a lot of room, and can provide your family with a generous supply of protein-rich eggs.
Again, practice self-reliance in other areas as well. While these things might not seem to be helpful for food security, they are, indirectly. Any money that you can divert from spending on cleaning supplies and such, can be used to buy supplies and seeds, or food that you are unable to grow.
A half acre?
If you have a half acre or so, your options for protecting your food security are pretty varied. You have the ability to protect your family’s food security in so many ways. That’s right, most people can be pretty self-sufficient on just a half acre.
If you have a half acre, you can have a big garden, which can provide your family with most of their vegetable needs. You will have to plan the garden efficiently, and preserve the harvests. But if planned out correctly, you will be able to eat fresh vegetables for the entire growing season, as well as having preserved vegetables for the winter.
With just a half acre, you most likely won’t be able to raise large livestock like a cow, but you have other options available. You should be able to raise chickens, or meat rabbits. For ultimate food security, the important thing is to figure out what your family will eat, and find a way to grow it.
An acre or more?
If you are blessed enough to have an acre or more, your options for food security are almost endless! If you have a pasture, you could probably raise a cow, or goats or sheep (check your local ordinances to see how many you can have on your land).
Of course, no 1 acre+ farm would be complete without chickens. They don’t take up a lot of space, and provide your family with a steady source of delicious protein. They also provide great garden fertilizer (after proper aging and/or composting), and aid in bug control.
Depending on how your property is laid out, and how much is devoted to pasture, you should be able to put in a garden that will provide all the vegetables your family needs. You will probably even be able to have more food than your family can eat. This could turn into a source of income for your family by selling the excess.
Gardening for food security
Growing a Victory Garden is a wonderful way to protect your family’s food security. If you have a garden, YOU have control over your food. YOU decide what your family eats. And YOU are free from the uncertainties of the supply chain.
To plan your garden efficiently, you will need to research the plants you are wanting to put in. Abide by the planting guidelines, and don’t put plants out too early. Know the difference between cool-weather crops and warm-weather crops. Cool-weather crops can withstand some frost, so they can be planted earlier (generally before your last spring frost date).
Pay careful attention to the general yields of each vegetable. This is important in knowing how much to plant for your family’s yearly consumption. Learn to preserve your harvests, so you can still have food in wintertime.
If you need fresh veggies fast, the best thing to do is to grow sprouts or microgreens. Most sprouts will be ready to eat in just 3-5 days, and most microgreens in about 7-10 days. Succession plant your sprouts and microgreens so you have a steady supply until your other vegetable crops are ready.
Raising meat for food security
If you live in the city, or in the suburbs, you may not be able to raise your own meat. Check into your local ordinances if you’d like to raise chickens. Two chickens per family member is a good start to ensure that you will have eggs to eat. You will also have enough to hatch out some of your own eggs, for a self-sustaining flock. If you have a self-sustaining flock, you will be able to have new layers every year, and can butcher the extra roosters.
Ducks are another good option to protect your food security. Ducks are very reliable layers, even laying in the winter when most chickens take a break. Their eggs are bigger, and excellent in baking. They are also fast-growing. Most ducks (especially Pekins) can be butchered at 8-12 weeks, and will provide a decent-sized meal for a family.
The most efficient meat to raise in a smaller space, is meat rabbits. Their space footprint can be very, very small. And they are virtually silent, so they are a good “stealth” meat source. Rabbits can be kept in hutches, or cages hung on a wall. Female rabbits (called does) can have a litter of babies every 30 days. Each litter can have anywhere between 5 and 10 babies. These babies can be butchered at 8-12 weeks, and will provide 3-4 pounds of meat. A good breeding trio of meat rabbits can give your family up to 600 pounds of meat in a year.
I have a post about raising a years supply of meat on your homestead if you’d like more info.
Food storage for food security
If you planned ahead, and got a good handle on your family’s food storage, you’re ahead of most. Most people have less than 2 weeks of food in their homes, even though FEMA suggests that each family has at least that (and that’s not nearly adequate, IMO).
It is my sincere hope that you have some basic pantry staples stored in food-grade buckets. Rice, beans, pasta, flour, sugar, and yeast are cheap, and can help provide lots of meals for your family.
Flour has been sold out at all of our local stores for 2 weeks. Luckily, I had quite a bit of flour stored. But I still didn’t feel confident that I would have enough to weather a longer-term disruption. I went to the local grain mill and bought a 50 pound bag of hard white wheat.
This wheat will go into storage, and can be used for a few different things. I’m going to leave it whole right now, so it has greater versatility. Whole hard white wheat berries can be ground into flour, can be sprouted into wheat grass (for humans or animals), can be made into a filling breakfast cereal, or can be planted right into the ground for a fall wheat harvest.
If you have the money and are able to, please stock up on your food storage now. Food storage is huge in protecting your family’s food security.
How will YOU protect your family’s food security?
Do you have a plan in place to protect your family’s food security?
I know that I, personally, am going to really focus on my garden this year. We already have the meat resources in place. And we have a calf that will be butchered this winter, and we have lots of chickens and ducks. We have our meat rabbits and turkeys. And we even have a breeding trio of sheep, with an extra ram to butcher.
Our garden area is 100’x100′. It still needs organic matter added to it, which we are doing now. In the meantime, I have been starting seeds in my greenhouse. My goal is to get everything planted as soon as possible, to get an earlier harvest. We don’t have a very long growing season, so I need to hurry some things up a bit.
What are you going to do to ensure your family has enough food?
I highly recommend Mary’s Heirloom Seeds. They have over 700 varieties of Heirloom, open-pollinated, non-GMO, and non-hybrid seeds. With good prices and excellent customer service, you’re sure to find some amazing seeds!
This post may be shared on Family Homesteading and Off The Grid Blog Hop, Simple Homestead Blog Hop, Farm Fresh Tuesday, and Old Paths to New Homesteading & Self-Reliant Living.