Independence Days: My First Challenge

Sharon April 29th, 2008

I’ve quoted Carla Emery’s wonderful passage about Independence Days and how she plants on this blog before, but it bears repeating.  She wrote,

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 lastas 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.   

That was Carla’s version of “Independence Days” – a world where every day was part of the food cycle.  She wrote more about this in one of my favorite

 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.

Now there’s a Declaration of Independence for you.  Or perhaps the Constitution of the United Food Sovereign People of the World.  It is so desperately needed that we do declare our independence from the globalizing, totalitarian, destructive, toxic, dangerous agriculture that destroys our future and our power and pays to destroy democracy.  And so, when in the course of human events it becomes necessary for people to divorce themselves from a system that has become destructive, and thus:

We the people, in order to form a more perfect union of human and nature, establish justice and ensure food sovreignty, provide for the common nutrition, promote the general welfare and ensure the blessings of liberty, for ourselves and our posterity do ordain and establish this constitution for the United Food Sovereign People of the World.

I’ve never really run a challenge before on this blog, but I thought I’d start one – the Independence Days challenge!  We’re already sort of doing this over at the food storage group (if you want to subscribe send an email to [email protected]), but I thought I’d bring it here, because I think it is a thing worth struggling for.

I challenge myself and all of you to work on creating food Independence Days this year – that all of us try to do one thing every day  to create Food Independence.  That means in each day or week, we would try to:

1. Plant something.  Obviously, those of us who live in the Northern Hemisphere and having spring are doing this anyway.  But the idea that you should plant all week and all year is a good reminder to those of us who sometimes don’t get our fall gardens or our succession plantings done regularly.  Remember, that beet you harvested left a space – maybe for the next one to get bigger, but maybe for a bit of arugula or a fall crop of peas, or a cover crop to enrich the soil.  Independence is the bounty of a single seed that creates an abundance of zucchini, and enough seeds to plant your own garden and your neighbor’s.

2. Harvest something. From the very first nettles and dandelions to the last leeks and parsnips I drag out of the frozen ground, harvest something from the garden or the wild every day you can.  I can’t think of a better way to be aware of the bounty around you to realize that there’s something – even if it is dandelions for tea or wild garlic for a salad – to be had every single day.  Independence is really appreciating and using the bounty that we have.

3. Preserve something.  Sometimes this will be a big project, but it doesn’t have to be.  It doesn’t take long to slice a couple of tomatoes and set them on a screen in the sun, or to hang up a bunch of sage for winter.  And it adds up fast.  The time you spend now is time you don’t have to spend hauling to the store and cooking later.  Independence is eating our own, and cutting the ties we have to agribusiness.

4. Prep something.  Hit a yard sale and pick up an extra blanket.  Purchase some extra legumes and oatmeal.  Sort out and inventory your pantry.  Make a list of tools you need.  Find a way to give what you don’t need to someone who does.  Fix your bike.  Fill that old soda bottle with water with a couple of drops of bleach in it.  Plan for next year’s edible landscaping.  Make back-road directions to your place and send it to family in case they ever need to come to you – or make ‘em for yourself for where you might have to go. Clean, mend, declutter, learn a new skill.  Independence is being ready for whatever comes.

5. Cook something.  Try and new recipe, or an old one with a new ingredient.  Sometimes it is hard to know what to do with all that stuff you are growing or making.  So experiment now.  Can you make a whole meal in your solar oven?  How are stir-fried pea shoots?  Stuffed squash blossoms?  Wild morels in pasta?  Independence is being able to eat and enjoy what is given to us.

6. Manage your reserves.  Check those apples and take out the ones starting to go bad and make sauce with it.  Label those cans.  Clean out the freezer.  Ration the pickles, so you’ll have enough to last to next season.  Use up those lentils before you take the next ones out of the bag.  Find some use for that can of whatever it is that’s been in the pantry forever.  Sort out what you can donate, and give it to the food pantry.  Make sure the squash are holding out.  Independence means not wasting the bounty we have.

7. Work on local food systems.  This could be as simple as buying something you don’t grow or make from a local grower, or finding a new local source.  It could be as complex as starting a coop or a farmer’s market, creating a CSA or a bulk store.  You might give seeds or plants or divisions to a neighbor, or solicit donations for your food pantry.  Maybe you’ll start a guerilla garden or help a homeschool coop incubate some chicks.  Maybe you’ll invite people over to your garden, or your neighbors in for a homegrown meal, or sing the praises of your local CSA.  Maybe you can get your town to plant fruit or nut producing street trees or get a manual water pump or a garden put in at your local school.  Whatever it is, our Independence days come when our neighbors and the people we love are food secure too. 

I’m not suggesting you should do all these things on any day (heck that’ s impossible) - but every day try and do one of them – or every week, or every weekend, if that’s what your schedule allows.  It takes practice to live and grow and eat this way – so let’s do it now while we’ve got the time and energy and each other for support. 

I’m going to try to do this, starting now, and running all year long.  If you sign up in the comments section, I’ll try and set up a cool sidebar thingie, like all the funky challengers do.   We’ll do weekly updates, and I want to hear how you are doing too!  Who’s in for in Independence Days?


153 Responses to “Independence Days: My First Challenge”

  1. We’d love to participate as well. We already do something in all 7 categories you listed, but we’re striving to do more!

  2. Mrs Green says:

    This sounds wonderful – thank you so much for setting up this challenge. I do have a tendency to overwhelm myself, so I’m going to stick with one thing per week and hopefully I will have more success that way.

    Looking forward to it and thanks for the inspiration. I love that about the blogs I read – there are so many ‘ordinary’ people doing extraordinary things; it makes my heart soar :)

    Mrs Green x

  3. Melanie J. says:

    I’m in! I’m almost 3 weeks late, but I just found you…I’m just starting to truly engage in sustainable living, and I look forward with eagerness to learning through your challenge and others. Thanks for the opportunity!

  4. [...] update, challenge, reduction, waste) Recently I decided to join a challenge created  by Sharon Astyk who is one of the founders of the Riot for Austerity. Her challenge is called “Independance [...]

  5. Joanna says:

    I’m in with my whole heart.

  6. Susan says:

    Hubby and I are in too. Got some catchup reporting to do but our hearts have been with you all along. The butts are a bit slow. It was that bite of homemade butter on home ground whole wheat toasted bread for breakfast this morning that tipped the scale into commitment with accountability. I loved your post about the Apricots and the Three Gardens, a story of God’s blessing on you and your family. :)

  7. [...] out Casaubon’s Book site for ideas on how to achieve each [...]

  8. [...] blog by searching for “I can’t get my gamma seal lid on the bucket”.  During an Independence Days Challenge report last month, I’d described similar trouble when I bought some gamma seal lids and then [...]

  9. Leslie says:

    I’m a little late to the game here, but I’m jumping into this challenge, as it resonates with me not just as a “challenge” but as a philosophy consistent with this journey I’m on to slowly develop a more sustainable lifestyle. I hope you don’t mind that I listed the steps (with a link here) in the sidebar of my blog so that I have a easy reference point. Thanks for all you do!

  10. earth heart says:

    Inspiring and wonderful idea! I do my best to live this way from day to day.

  11. [...] decided that I have been far too morose lately, and with an improved outlook in mind, I am taking on Sharon Astyk’s Independence Days Challenge. I found this through Crunchy Chicken, which is my favorite blog. The [...]

  12. Robj98168 says:

    Ok Ok Count me in. I will try and do one thing per week.

  13. kory says:

    better late than never right? Count me in.

  14. [...] June 19, 2008 Independence Days Challenge Update. The original idea from Casaubon’s Book which can be found here. Link [...]

  15. Marie says:

    I’d love to join in!

  16. Jena says:

    I would like to join this one! I wasn’t going to because it looked like a lot of work but I realized I am already doing most of these things anyway so I’m in! I’ll add the banner. :)


  17. Maeve says:

    I’m in. I realized I’m already trying to do a lot of these things, and being a participant in a challenge might help me keep focused, as well as finding the motivation to account for the things I do in my blog. :)

  18. Bee says:

    I’m finding this a little late, but I’m in.

  19. Your suggestions are inspiring!

    Victoria Wesseler

    Discover, celebrate, and savor the abundance of Indiana’s fresh, in-season, and local foods.

  20. [...] some things I have been pondering. My thoughts have to do with why I take part in things like the Independence Days Challenge or One Local Summer.  They have to do with why I grow my own garden, use canvas shopping bags, [...]

  21. abbie says:

    Is it too late to join? I’d love to have an “official” purpose… oh, besides survival. Haha.


  22. Michelle says:

    I know it is late but I would like to participate…we are already starting to do this also and it is even more motivating to see others joining in.

  23. [...] July 15, 2008 While we know what the Independence Days Challenge was designed for as written by Sharon here. [...]

  24. Jackie says:

    Oh can I join too? Only just seen it and as its raining non stop in the UK it’ll give me something to aim for!

  25. [...] the idea of creating a sidebar listing the harvest and then just decided to go ahead and join the Independence Days Challenge as it covers everything I wanted to record and then some. Hopefully, actually joining up will keep [...]

  26. [...] so much to be done this time of year that I am losing ground.   My friend, Tansy,  linked to the independence day challenge and so I  have decided to do so as well and use this blog as a way of keeping track of my [...]

  27. Stephany says:

    I see my link beat me here but I thought I would mention that I am playing. Is there a snippet of code someplace for the cool graphic link?

  28. [...] is my first week of participating in the Independence Day Challenge .  It was a little sketchy due to all of the other things going on but I managed to accomplish a [...]

  29. Jen C. says:

    I’m a little late in joining in, but it sounds like a brilliant idea to me!

  30. surplus inventory

    . The term is used colloquially for any kind of Linkback. This is similar to comment spam but avoids some of the safeguards designed

  31. April says:

    OK… I’m coming in at the half year mark on this… starting on my birthday when I move to my new farm. Every year I make a Birthday Resolution on Jan 3rd and this year your challenge is it!

  32. [...] av en slump på en bloggsida som beskrev hur man åstadkommer självständighet/självförsörjning. Gav mig återigen en massa ideer. Helt självförsörjande blir jag aldrig. Man måste ställa sig [...]

  33. [...] In thinking about my goals for 2009, I rather liked the way Gina did hers, in the fashion of the Independence Days Challenge.  I decided to do my along a similarline, in that I’ve chosen broad categories instead of [...]

  34. [...] Independence Days Challenge–I will start posting my efforts in this area after we move. But it’s something I feel pretty strongly about and I hope to see real changes over a year! [...]

  35. [...] Sharon’s Independence Days challenge [...]

  36. Jennifer says:

    I’d love to try and do one of these things a day! I love anything that gets me less dependent on “big business” and is simple and natural- much healthier for me, my family, and the earth that way.

  37. [...] have a positive tone are quite fun.   I enjoyed Rob’s Make Do or Mend Challenge and the  Independence Days Challenge because they give  people a chance to proudly proclaim and what they have achieved.   I find [...]

  38. [...] part of my 2009 goals, I mentioned that I would like to start participating in Sharon’s Independence Days Challenge. Basically, this challenge is a weekly review of things done to promote self-sufficiency, local food [...]

  39. [...] Sharon’s Independence Days Challenge- Week 31Plant Something: NopeHarvest Something: The last of my carrots that wintered over, Swiss chardPreserve something: NothingStore something: Some rice that I put into jars and vacuumed sealedManage Reserves: Repaired the hose on the water barrel again! Got down the Christmas lights (it’s not even Easter yet!) Put them away, got some storage bins to make earthtainers!Cook Something New: Southern Style Polenta, commonly known as Grits; Put some Guinea hens in the rotisserie (I Never cooked Guinea hens in the rotisserie before)Prep Something: Made some starter pots out of toilet paper tubesReduce Waste- Reduce, Reuse, Recycle, Repair: Cleaned out the bead were the carrots and chard where planted, composted the carrot tops. Used some toilet paper tubes for starter pots. Took some used storage bins from Mom’s to make earthtainers, Souped up a rolling tea cart for mom to put her “garden” on so she can wheel it into the sunlightLearn a New Skill: How to prepare GritsWork on Community Food Security: Nothing, sorry to say- Wait a minute got the seeds sent out that folks won in my Giveaways this week (Except for Vioboy whom as not sent his address yet) [...]

  40. [...] Independence Days Challenge–I will start posting my efforts in this area after we move. But it’s something I feel pretty strongly about and I hope to see real changes over a year! Based on our schedule, and my goals, I think I will post updates once or twice a month. You can find the first one here. [...]

  41. Dickies says:

    It’s always good to find like-minded people. Thanx and I’m going to add you to my RSS feed.

  42. Stacy says:

    I’m in for this challenge. It’s so easy for the days to slip by and you find you’ve done absolutely nothing…

  43. Karen says:

    I only just heard about it, but I’m in!

  44. [...] thinking about my goals for 2009, I rather liked the way Gina did hers, in the fashion of the Independence Days Challenge.  I decided to do my along a similarline, in that I’ve chosen broad categories instead of [...]

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