Farm it now

Ever fantasize about going “back to the land”? Growing your salad and side dishes, making your own goat cheese: that kind of thing. But, you tell yourself, it can’t be done. Not until you own that idyllic farm.

Bollocks, argues 26-year old Jenna Woginrich in her Mother Earth News blog post titled “A Renter’s Homestead.” Jenna is a homesteader who grows tomatoes, raises chickens and spins yarn from her own angora rabbits. She’s also a renter – something that doesn’t keep her from taking steps toward self-sufficiency.

The landlords I’ve had would’ve freaked out if they’d known about my cat. I can’t imagine what they’d do if they found out I was keeping heirloom chickens. Actually, I can. It rhymes with depicted. Jenna has an idea for keeping landlords happy, though: “offer them a dozen organic free-range eggs every two weeks and some homemade tomato sauce. They’ll cave like spelunkers.”

In my experience, if the place you rent has an “outside”, most landlords are just thrilled to learn you’re a gardener – they’re probably not going to impose stylistic considerations on the types of plants you introduce. After all, before you came along, the yard probably only saw rudimentary lawn maintenance.

I got started in vegetable gardening because I was a renter. Vegetable seeds are cheap, and investing money on perennials for someone else’s garden wasn’t on my to-do list. I had a big lawn-filled backyard that needed… something other than lawn. A few months later, I had a big, beautiful veggie garden.

Don’t have a yard? You’d be amazed what you can grow on a teeny tiny balcony. No balcony? Find yourself a community garden and get yourself a plot. (If the waitlist is too long, spearhead the development of a new community garden in your ‘hood. Many local governments are increasingly sensitive to the benefits of community gardening. If they balk, tell ’em it’s good for the economy.)

Point is, as Jenna puts it, “you don’t have to put off your fresh food dreams” just because the conditions aren’t as ideal as you think they ought to be. Growing even a little bit of your meal is better than all store-bought, right?

Read Jenna’s blog here.

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