I wouldn’t have called myself much of a farmer before but with the number of tomatoes growing in our backyard, I am thinking of joining the state association. At last count there are five green tomatoes growing into giant, award winning beauties and with the number of flowers popping up, I am expecting that number to multiply rapidly.
I used to consider myself a carnivore. On the Atkins diet there were days and days where I would only subsist on spicy, un-breaded chicken wings and diet Pepsi (which is made from kola bear tears). Naked, all beef hotdogs made a perfect Atkins breakfast, lunch, or diner and for many days they were the only things I ate.
However, I never considered growing cows and chickens in my backyard so I could eat them. I never considered it because if I had I would have had to consider how cows and chickens become hotdogs and spicy chicken wings… and that may have kept me from being comfortable eating them in such large quantities. It was easy to ignore what I knew to be true about factory farming and even the most humane of animal deaths. I’m afraid this skill will become even more handy in the future when Ag-gag laws are passed that make it illegal to think about the conditions that animals endure before and during slaughter.
As a veganaut, I am much more excited about growing food in my backyard that I can actually eat. If I harvest 30 tomatoes and 20 leaves of kale it wont be enough to feed my family through a cold winter. On the other hand, that is 30 tomatoes and 20 leaves of kale that I wont spend my money on… that wont be transported from a farm to a grocery store for me to buy… that wont be covered in pesticide/herbicide/fungicide or fertilizer.
In a lot of ways this little tiny bit if difference I make in the ‘food for money’ cycle is like the little tiny bit of good that I do by being a veganaut. The environmental impact that I make by reducing my use of meat and animal products by 99% is minor when I take into consideration the world population surpassed the 7 billion mark. Luckily, I am not acting alone. More and more people are removing themselves from the ‘meat for money’ cycle causing the aggregate difference to the meat industries to have a much more real impact. In comparison, if we all grew 30 tomatoes and 20 leaves of kale it would make a more drastic impact than if an individual acted alone. Think of the impact if we all start growing much, much more in our backyards.
My farming roots were planted in a rural part of Florida. I grew up surrounded by fields of cattle, corn used to feed cattle, hay used to feed cattle, and melons used to feed people. One blisteringly hot summer, in desperate need of gas money for my 1972 VW Super beetle, I took a job picking cantaloupes and watermelons. On the first day of my job I worked a line of cantaloupe. This means I walked in a line with 10 other people and threw my melons to a guy on the back of a truck. Every 10th row it would be my turn to catch the melons on the back of the truck. During that day I jammed four fingers, damaged a thumb in a gross way, and caught a speeding melon with my face. The next day I found a relaxing job digging ditches for a construction company. I’ll take blisters over concussions any day.
Later in life, while looking for a way to avoid completing my college degree I joined the specialized group of farmers called vermatechnologists. We didn’t wrangle long horns or run herds of bison across the prairie. That was kid’s stuff compared to what we dealt with. I was a worm farmer. Beds of manure and compost were my corrals, Amynthas corticis and A. gracilis were my herds. My partner and I harvested plenty of quality worm castings and even some precious casting tea, but the operation wasn’t nearly big enough to keep me from graduating and getting a real job.
The catalyst for my new stab at farming came in part from some of the super cool people in the super secret Facebook group, the Veganauts, who are already growing much of their own food. Some of these people are producing some serious food, in fact. I am also enjoying a lot of the cool backyard farming ideas that are posted on this Homesteading Page and some of the related content on Facebook.
I am a lucky guy. I also work with a very smart man who has been creating a backyard garden that is a wonder to behold. As much as I’d like to be able to take all of you over to his house for a visit and a dip in his cool pool, I am concerned about how disruptive busloads of people could be. Instead, I will share the YouTube Channel that he and his children put together addressing some of the more important topics related to growing your own food. Check them out: CentralFlaGardening
The ultimate localvore tries to grow almost all of their own food- every bite is a bit not bought from the general food system but instead something beautiful coaxed from the ground by their own hands. I am not the ultimate localvore but I am making a small difference with my contributions and I’ve never had so much fun bucking the system.
Happy growing season, and ya’ll come back now, y’hear?