Friday, March 12, 2010

Independence Days 1

Astute readers may have noticed the new icon on the side of my blog. Independence Day Challenge.
The challenge is being sponsored by Sharon Astyk, over at Casaubons Book. The idea is that no one can do everything all the time. Independence is hard and can be overwhelming. But, everyone can do a little bit sometimes, and those little bits can add up to make Independence Days. Sometimes its easy to discount the little things, so this challenge helps to remind us that those little things DO make a difference.
All of us need to devote some energy to fighting battles that will probably be lost, simply because we have an obligation to fight the good fight. But most of us can’t live on a steady diet of tilting at windmills. We also need to do work where we know we can accomplish something and where we know we matter. That’s why I think food preservation and storage matter so much. Ultimately, we are talking not only about the fairly manageable question of what to have for dinner, but also about about transforming our society, our use of energy, our food culture, and, of course our culture as a whole.” -Sharon

The name and the inspiration came from the late, great Carla Emery. She was the author of _The Encyclopedia of Country Living_ . She saw the traditional ways disappearing, and she recorded them, and built upon them until by reading her book you can learn to make a BLT that starts with a piglet, a tomato seed and a field of wheat.

She wrote about Independence Days: “All spring I try to plant something every day – from late February, when the early peas and spinach and garlic can go in, on up to midsummer, when the main potato crop and the late beans and lettuce go in. Then I switch over and make it my rule to try and get something put away for the winter every single day. That lasts until the pumpkins and sunflowers and late squash and green tomatoes are in. Then comes the struggle to get the most out of the stored food – all winter long. It has to be checked regularly, and you’ll need to add to that day’s menu anything that’s on the verge of spoiling, wilting or otherwise becoming useless.


People have to choose what they are going to struggle for. Life is always a struggle, whether or not you’re struggling for anything worthwhile, so it might as well be for something worthwhile. Independence days are worth struggling for. They’re good for me, good for the country and good for growing children.”

So, there's the gist. Every week or so participants in the challenge write down their accomplishments, organizing them into seven categories:

1. Plant something

2. Harvest something

3. Preserve something

4. Waste Not

5. Want Not – This is the category where you report the stuff you’ve done to get ready that isn’t growing/storing/preserving food. That means the food you buy for storage, the things you build, scavenge, rescue and repair that get you further down the path.

6. Build Community Food Systems – what did you do to help spread the message, because that may even be more important.

7. Eat the Food

1. Plant something - I potted up some herb seedlings, Borage, White Sage and Basil are in small pots now. I'm preparing to start tomato seeds this weekend.

2. Harvest something - nada

3. Preserve something - nada

4. Waste not - Potatoes that are sprouted are on my windowsill waiting to be planted. Baby food jars are washed and packed away for further use. Some fruit that was about to spoil got put in a nice smoothie along with the last of the frozen cherries from last year.

5. Want not - Put together the BOB's, repackaged rice stores into something more air-tight.

6. Build Community Food Systems - Helping with the leadership transition for the community gardens.

7. Eat the food - We ate corn, carrots, tomato sauce and frozen fruit, all put up last year.

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