These are the challenges each week:
1. Plant something. Obviously, those of us who live in the Northern Hemisphere and having spring are doing this anyway. But the idea that you should plant all week and all year is a good reminder to those of us who sometimes don’t get our fall gardens or our succession plantings done regularly. Remember, that beet you harvested left a space – maybe for the next one to get bigger, but maybe for a bit of arugula or a fall crop of peas, or a cover crop to enrich the soil. Independence is the bounty of a single seed that creates an abundance of zucchini, and enough seeds to plant your own garden and your neighbor’s.
2. Harvest something. From the very first nettles and dandelions to the last leeks and parsnips I drag out of the frozen ground, harvest something from the garden or the wild every day you can. I can’t think of a better way to be aware of the bounty around you to realize that there’s something – even if it is dandelions for tea or wild garlic for a salad – to be had every single day. Independence is really appreciating and using the bounty that we have.
3. Preserve something. Sometimes this will be a big project, but it doesn’t have to be. It doesn’t take long to slice a couple of tomatoes and set them on a screen in the sun, or to hang up a bunch of sage for winter. And it adds up fast. The time you spend now is time you don’t have to spend hauling to the store and cooking later. Independence is eating our own, and cutting the ties we have to agribusiness.
4. Prep something. Hit a yard sale and pick up an extra blanket. Purchase some extra legumes and oatmeal. Sort out and inventory your pantry. Make a list of tools you need. Find a way to give what you don’t need to someone who does. Fix your bike. Fill that old soda bottle with water with a couple of drops of bleach in it. Plan for next year’s edible landscaping. Make back-road directions to your place and send it to family in case they ever need to come to you – or make ‘em for yourself for where you might have to go. Clean, mend, declutter, learn a new skill. Independence is being ready for whatever comes.
5. Cook something. Try and new recipe, or an old one with a new ingredient. Sometimes it is hard to know what to do with all that stuff you are growing or making. So experiment now. Can you make a whole meal in your solar oven? How are stir-fried pea shoots? Stuffed squash blossoms? Wild morels in pasta? Independence is being able to eat and enjoy what is given to us.
6. Manage your reserves. Check those apples and take out the ones starting to go bad and make sauce with it. Label those cans. Clean out the freezer. Ration the pickles, so you’ll have enough to last to next season. Use up those lentils before you take the next ones out of the bag. Find some use for that can of whatever it is that’s been in the pantry forever. Sort out what you can donate, and give it to the food pantry. Make sure the squash are holding out. Independence means not wasting the bounty we have.
7. Work on local food systems. This could be as simple as buying something you don’t grow or make from a local grower, or finding a new local source. It could be as complex as starting a coop or a farmer’s market, creating a CSA or a bulk store. You might give seeds or plants or divisions to a neighbor, or solicit donations for your food pantry. Maybe you’ll start a guerrilla garden or help a homeschool coop incubate some chicks. Maybe you’ll invite people over to your garden, or your neighbors in for a homegrown meal, or sing the praises of your local CSA. Maybe you can get your town to plant fruit or nut producing street trees or get a manual water pump or a garden put in at your local school. Whatever it is, our Independence days come when our neighbors and the people we love are food secure too.