Celebrate the culture of agriculture & share skills (Growing! Cooking! Eating!)

I guess you could say that I grew up more HOMEGROWN than my friends. My grandmother, aunts, and my parents canned pickles, jams, jellies, fruits, and chutneys; baked from-scratch breads and goodies; grew fruits, vegetables, and herbs; and raised chickens, goats, and a few miniature horses.  In high school, some of my classmates called me Laura from the Little House on the Prairie (because of the log home my dad built us in the woods). I began to reject that lifestyle in favor of keeping up with the Joneses, and moved to the city for college to, in a sense, cut ties from my roots.


While I left to become a city slicker, I am now finding that while you can take the girl off of "Green Acres", you can't take the "Green Acres" out of the girl.  Even though I have a zillion apps at my fingertips, enough websites and reality TV shows to waste away the rest of my life, and enough traffic, shopping, and people in this city to keep me forever busy, I am yearning to reestablish a HOMEGROWN lifestyle that gets me back in touch with my roots, and allows me to glean new skills.  I am suddenly less interested in self-sufficiency as a result of technology, and increasingly eager to make my own cheese, grow my own greens, and craft my own gifts with my two hands and some skill.  


Although the food movement and DIY-culture are invigorating, and the HOMEGROWN community is inspiring, I'm still a little discouraged. As I'm rearing to dehydrate peaches and make my own laundry detergent, most other twenty-somethings are still Facebook stalking and watching the Jersey Shore.  It's still not "cool" to can and cook and garden to the kids who once called me Laura Ingalls...but maybe they'll realize it soon enough.  With the global worry about money, food, and energy, these skills might just preserve us from the worst of it.  It's about regaining control of our choices and maybe my contemporaries aren't there yet...


Maybe it's age and independence that led me to the HOMEGROWN light, or maybe it's personal interest and desire that is driving me towards this lifestyle.  It took some time for me to come full circle, but I'm ready as ever to get going! When did you feel ready to achieve HOMEGROWN? Are you just coming to consciousness about environmental and ecological decision-making, or has this been evolving for a while? Do you worry about your children and the future generations, thus, preserving the values and skills that will carry them through the future? Is this about politics, consumerism, or economics? Do you think some folks are riding a trendy, eco-friendly/counter-culture "green/foodie" wave for the minute? Is HOMEGROWN an alternative lifestyle that won't make it to the mainstream? What does it take to achieve HOMEGROWN and will we ever get there?


Share your story! Why do you want to live HOMEGROWN, be self-sufficient, or care about the environment? 






Views: 149

Comment by Meg Paska on August 26, 2011 at 2:07pm

All of this stuff is EXCEEDINGLY cool in BK! People here love living life to it's fullest and eating the best food is the #1 way to do that. It seems reasonable then, that people here would eventually gravitate towards growing food or making their own value added goods. 


I'm optimistic that it will become commonplace in the rest of the country again. It's just too gratifying for it not to be. Keep your head up!

Comment by Caroline Malcolm on August 26, 2011 at 2:23pm

Hi Meg -- Thanks for the comment.  I definitely see this lifestyle taking root around the country, and it's a great thing.  I love seeing the urban farms in my own city, and especially when I visited Brooklyn.  I do think that homegrown living is hip in a lot of communities - it's an alternative way to live that is gratifying and exciting.  When did you see this movement beginning in BK? Does the entire community embrace it? I'm interested to see where homegrown lifestyles are sprouting and who is participating! 


I, too, think that this could be a return to homegrown skills that are so important. If we could only get Snooki on the bandwagon...then many folks my age would definitely jump on! (kidding!)

Comment by Melanie Baltzer on August 26, 2011 at 8:36pm
Listen, the world as we know it is going to hell in a handbasket in a hurry. The more of us that will be able to be self-sufficient the better for humanity. You do your own thang!!!!
Comment by Lynn S on August 29, 2011 at 6:25am

Why waste precious time struggling with the acceptance of others when there are REAL struggles in front of you? Once you cross that threshold where you simply no longer care what others think, you will be more receptive to the lifestyle that you apparently long for. 

I suppose you must decide how you will choose to live your live. Are you really going to live your life according to others' expectations and interests? One very important factor in "homegrown" is self-reliance and self-sufficiency. Once you become truly independent and think for yourself, you will no worry about fitting-the-mold others want to place you in.

Yes there are people who are fad-oriented and are latching onto the "homegrown" mindset. But as all fads wax and wane, only a few will break through. As a woman who's been involved with homesteading and self-sufficiency for decades, I am still learning. Being independent, it mattered not what others thought -- my life path is my own, not theirs.

Beware the delusions and fads, though....hanging clothes on a line and gathering flowers does not make a homesteader. Neither does a TV show or a photographed scene conjured up to create an image to sell.  The Wannabees can't be homegrown -- it takes involvement and commitment. Our economy has changed and the world as-we-know-it has changed...and not for the better. Real skills will become more important and critical and success will break down to do-it-yourself or become yet another government-dependent. It's all about choice which is up to each individual if they choose to make their own decisions. Hope that helps....

Comment by Caroline Malcolm on August 29, 2011 at 10:47am

Hi Lynn,


Thanks for your insights.  I agree with everything you stated, and I hope that those who are attempting the homegrown lifestyle will dive in and enjoy the fruits of their work.  


I do think that "homegrown" has become somewhat of a fad in the greater food culture, but I do think it's important not to discourage others from jumping on the bandwagon - even if they can only take a few steps at a time...like myself!! I still take pleasure in achieving the smallest of tasks - growing a kitchen herb window box, repurposing old "junk" into something new, and making home-cooked meals with fresh foods.  I'd love to dig deeper into gardening, preserving, and making cheese, ect., but I'm space, time, and resource-strapped.  Plus, I'm not a master of these skills (yet!).  But, I'm still making the effort to live homegrown slowly but surely. 


It's easy to feel intimidated by the folks who are truly living the homegrown mission. I can't live up to those adept at these skills, but I have made a choice to adopt many of the practices and commit to living homegrown as best as I can. I do think it's important to avoid excluding folks from being part of the homegrown movement, and focus on rekindling the lifestyle and passing along the skills to those who are interested in learning them.  I agree with Melanie - the world is in a tough time, but learning and mastering homegrown skills will allow us to prosper self-sufficiently!!


Thanks for all the feedback :)

Comment by Caroline Malcolm on September 1, 2011 at 5:28pm

"The older you get, the more you realize that life resembles the weird social setup of grade school only there are fewer and fewer people who actually care that it exists. The strangest part about the Internet, I’ve noticed, is that it’s made being dorky totally cool. And all those Jessicas? They’re just trying to catch up. They’re still living off those old merits that — as time goes on — become less and less relevant."


Sounds a little like HOMEGROWN.org and this movement - check out the recipe for Blueberry-Mint Jam from the author of this post on Turntable Kitchen!


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