Our journey towards sustainable living began simply enough. I love a good tomato. That is what caused me to dig my first hole. Through the years, I witnessed the joy that my mother and grandmother found in gardening and I gladly enjoyed the fruits of their labors. I readily accepted the vegetables that they offered at the end of every visit. But, they were always gone long before the next visit. So, one spring I decided to grow tomatoes. I quickly discovered the satisfaction of growing my own vegetables. Under the mentorship of my mother and grandmother, I began to learn and experiment with raised bed gardening which would bring the highest yield while reducing the number of unpleasant tasks, such as tilling and weeding, and reducing or alleviating the need for chemical fertilizers and pesticides.
It wasn't long before we established our own small flock of backyard chickens. We didn't know anyone else raising chickens. So, we made quite a few mistakes and unnecessary expenditures. But, our mistakes have resulted in gains for others. We have learned how to make tending a small flock of backyard chickens very easy and affordable. We have also enjoyed the relationship that has developed between us and these lovely ladies who regularly provide us with such wonderful protein.
Although our backyard farm has been in place for several years, I still have not gotten over the thrill of gathering beautiful eggs daily, making a yummy salad or stir fry from just-picked vegetables, or making an omelet from all of these ingredients. I cannot put into words how satisfying it is to be able to go through a complete day only eating off of our land.
When moving towards a more sustainable lifestyle, it is important to remember that you don't have to do it all at one time. One small step quickly led to the realization that I could do even more. My mind frequently goes back to what my mother says when I ask her if she thinks that I can grow a certain vegetable. She says, “I don't know. Put in the dirt and see what happens. If it doesn't work out, you're only out a couple of dollars.” She always points out to me that even though she has gardened for over 50 years, every season she always learns something new. There is always a new method to try. I have found that the aspect of gardening and farming has been one of the most pleasurable. I remain in awe of the results because I have never been able to have them mastered. Every year, every season has its own unique challenges and victories. I get to participate in the miracle of life, but I don't control it. I believe that you also will find that you can do more than you ever thought possible, sooner than you ever thought possible.
With the proper equipment and soil, you can grow all of your own produce on your deck or in your yard in a raised bed garden. If you would like fresh eggs daily, good resources are available to assist you in acquiring your flock of hens and providing food and housing for them. Within a month, you also can begin to develop your own backyard farm dramatically increasing your sustainable lifestyle.
Donna is moving towards a more sustainable life through backyard farming. After hearing frequent visitors express their desire to do the same, she now finds great satisfaction in helping others move in that direction through raised bed gardening and backyard chickens. She encourages others to simply take the first step.