• About Farm School

    "There are obviously two educations. One should teach us how to make a living and the other how to live."
    James Adams, from his essay "To 'Be' or to 'Do': A Note on American Education", 1929

    We're a Canadian family of five, farming and home schooling. I'm nowhere near as regular a blogger as I used to be.

    The kids are 17/Grade 12, 15/Grade 10, and 13/Grade 9.

    Contact me at becky.farmschool@gmail.com

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    Jean Hagen as "Lina Lamont" in "Singin' in the Rain" (1952)
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Brother, can you spare some thyme?

I was reading the new October issue of the prairie edition of Gardens West magazine last night and noticed just inside the front cover a publisher’s ad for a new book, Food Security for the Faint of Heart: Keeping Your Larder Full in Lean Times by Robin Wheeler (New Society Publishers, September 2008; the book is listed as $16.95 in both Canada and the US). Certainly beats selling apples on street corners — grow your own instead! — and tucking your savings in the mattress, doesn’t it?

According to the New Society website, Ms. Wheeler is “a permaculture activist, author, teacher and founder of the Sustainable Living Arts School. She teaches traditional skills, sustenance gardening and medicinals at Edible Landscapes, a nursery and teaching garden in Roberts Creek, British Columbia.”

And from New Society’s blog post about the book, written long, long ago (alright, August) before billion-dollar bailouts, trillion-dollar debts, and Great Depression threats were common conversation (notice reason #3 — the big tippy bag has indeed fallen over) though in the midst of the Canadian listeria crisis,

Robin’s Top 10 reasons to get food secure:

1. Stuff happens. Earthquakes, trucker strikes, who knows; in an instant, our world could change. We should be better prepared.

2. It can be difficult for low-income families to afford high quality food. Fortunately, it costs little to grow nutritious food so having a safe food source nearby (like your own back yard) is a great equalizer.

3. The World Economy. What’s that all about? Beats them, too! But it’s a big, tippy bag of wrestling cats and we hope it doesn’t fall over.

4. Fossil Fuels. Getting darned expensive, eh? That would explain the high cost of lettuce in January, and of imported olives.

5. Genetically Modified Organism (GMO) and pesticide use. Although some say the jury is still out, my vote is in and that is for wholesome food grown without mucking about with anything made in a lab — something we can reproduce in our own back yards, for instance.

6. Your money stays local. If your community is strong, you are better off and much safer. Support your local farmers so that they can keep you fed and healthy.

7. You get enmeshed in your community. Meet local gardeners and farmers, visit the local organic co-op, go to a canning or earthquake preparedness workshop. Enlarge your circle of connected people.

8. You do not have to be a drain in times of stress. In an emergency, the elderly and injured will need all the help they can get. If you can look after yourself, you will not needlessly drain a system that may not have much left to give.

9. Personal resilience. Well-prepared people have an edge when handling and recovering from emergencies and trauma. That can’t hurt.

10. Being a new community asset. In times of stress, we will need many well-informed, experienced people to spread throughout the community. You may be one of them!

The only review I’ve been able to find is this one, “Farmer-Hunter-Gatherer”, from Sharon Astyk, author of Depletion and Abundance: Life on the New Home Front (also published by New Society, also out September 2008). Here’s a snippet from her review,

…this is a terrific book, warmly written, funny and smart. Not only do I now want to read her gardening book, but I immediately found myself fantasizing about hanging out with the author and trading recipes and graden [sic] tricks. That doesn’t happen so terribly often — I’m impressed. I really recommend the book, and I’ll put it in the food storage section of my store once it is out.

I see that Food Security for the Faint of Heart is listed in our library system, but only for one library, it’s “on order” with no date available, and one clever patron is already ahead of me with a holds request. And Depletion and Abundance not even listed. Drat.

* * *

In a similar vein, several Farm School blog posts about some favorite recent titles, Barbara Kingsolver’s Animal, Vegetable, Miracle: A Year of Food Life and Mildred Armstrong Kalish’s Little Heathens: Hard Times and High Spirits on an Iowa Farm During the Great Depression (this one is worth reading or re-reading if the politics of fear is getting to you right about now, and it occurs to me to wonder if anyone has bothered to ask Mrs. Kalish her opinion about current events):

All roads lead to home and hard work (August 18, 2007)

Little Heathens and Animal, Vegetable, Miracle in The Christian Science Monitor (July 11, 2007)

More from Millie Kalish (July 9, 2007)

Food, Family, Fellowship: Animal, Vegetable, Miracle (July 5, 2007)

Gosh all hemlock! (July 2, 2007)

More food for thought: connections and disconnections (June 29, 2007)

Now if you’ll excuse me, I have to can some pears…

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6 Responses

  1. Thanks for this! We’ve tried to live this way for years, though during our Hawaii hiatus, it was tougher (but I did manage to make some heavenly lilikoi jam and bring it home with us!). Even this year, with a haphazard garden that went in without any soil prep, we’ve managed to squirrel away a dozen jars of salsa, 20+ qts. of applesauce, and as many pints of apple butter. When the frost comes, I’ll do a big batch of chow chow with the green tomatoes, too. It’s not much by my usual standards, but it’s *something. And then there’s the 25 chicks I’m getting ready to order, and talk of fencing our lower field for beef. And maybe adding a pig. Sigh. Not enough hours!

  2. Kris, I’m intrigued — what’s a lilikoi, and what does it taste like? That’s a good pantry you’ve got started already! No, never enough hours, but at least you can spend fewer in the supermarket…

  3. Mrs. Kalish lives in the same building as the mother of a friend. Perhaps i can get him to ask her!

  4. Lilikoi -otherwise known as passion fruit- is sweet and sour and like nothing I’ve tasted before.

    http://paradisefound.homeschooljournal.net/2007/06/19/peach-lilikoi/

  5. Mary Lou, how nifty! Let me know if you do — and better yet, find out if anyone is allowed to repeat what she says! You can pass along that I’ve kept the book by the bedside for over a year now.

    Kris, aha! I know what passionfruit tastes like. I still have a jar of passionfruit jam (albeit purchased, not homemade) in reserve that I brought back from our last West Indian trip — though from that part of the world my absolute favorite is guava jam.

  6. A friend just gave me some peach-lilikoi. I can’t say I am wild about them, but I am curious to know what they really are. There are several species of invasive plants that produce fruit a lot like this.

    Let me know if you hear anything.
    Aloha,
    -Konabob

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