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February 2018
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It Takes a Village…to Grow a Garden

When I started this site and podcast in 2009 (the first one was at the now defunct www.theselfsufficientway.com), I knew that self-sufficiency was to be the primary goal.  Though I had been gardening for 30 years I had just lost a job and the garden and other forms of food production took on a whole new meaning for me.

The message seemed to resonate with people.  Most of us live a dependent life to some degree.  It would be nice to shake off at least a few chains.

Some people though see this as a threat to social engineering.  You see they’d force you into community actions and they call people like you and I isolationists or kooks because we’d like to do things our own way.  They believe that coming into a community on bended knee with open hands is the proper way to do things.  I do not.  I believe that if we take some responsibility for our own education we can come into the community with something to offer.  Value for value.

By the way, the next time you read an article on someone’s website about just how “community based” they are go take a look at how many links to other pages they display!  I have a hard time taking someone seriously when they can’t even practice what they preach.  These people want community but as long as they are the leader.  Its totally self-serving.

The truth is for me that though this website and podcast are called “The Self-Sufficient Gardener” it’s really “The Self-Sufficient Gardeners”.  I want each and every person who reads or listens to what I have to say be as self-sufficient as they want to be.  The saying is that a good teacher works himself or herself out of a job.  I’m not that good…yet!

The truth about gardening, hunting, fishing, trapping, permaculture and foraging is that quite a bit can actually be learned on one’s own.  But the real payoff is the community aspect at the start and the end.  If you know how I look at food systems and permaculture you know there is a natural flow.  This journey is no different.

On the front side (input) your learning is supercharged when you have mentors and teachers and resources.  There are many things that I don’t even pretend you should just run off and attempt on your own.  I read a great saying about mushroom hunters the other day:  There are old mushroom hunters.  There are bold mushroom hunters.  There are no old bold mushroom hunters.

In the middle (process) you work not only with your peers but also people who are teaching you as well as people who are just starting out.  This is the formative stage.  You learn from your mentors in a higher capacity.  You have some understanding.  You are better able to teach those starting out.  You understand where they come from.  But most of all your peer interactions are CRUCIAL.  I learn from teachers but when I work in a group with others the way ideas play together makes the final idea even stronger.

At the end (output) you should have good working knowledge (but always able to learn more!).  But you should pass this on at every opportunity.

So what does this have to do with the first part of this article?  Very simply community is important but learn how to interact with a community and learn how to provide value.  If you come into a community with some ability to be self-sufficient you should immediately set out to teach others and render their reliance upon you void as soon as possible.

So the next time that someone suggests to you in any form that being self-sufficient or self-reliant is a less noble goal than giving your life unwillingly to others remind them that someone had to learn the knowledge so they could someday pass it on to the group!

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