Poor Man Survival
Self Reliance tools for independent minded people…
A Digest of Urban Survival Resources
The free, independent spirit who commits himself to no dogma and will not decide in favor of any party has no homestead on earth
Read to the end to learn about Agri-terrorism in PA and how officials shut down a seed bank at the local library…thank God for bumbling bureaucrats!
Guide to Urban Homesteading
by Rachel Kaplan
You may not have enough garden space to grow your own wheat or corn, but you can harvest an amazing amount of many crops from a collection of containers. Plus, in the city, it can be much easier to build a community of like-minded neighbors who can share tools, knowledge and friendship.
Here’s what it can look like: In a single year, six households working with the organization Daily Acts in Petaluma, Calif., produced more than 3,000 pounds of food; foraged 2,000 pounds of local fruit; collected more than 4,000 pounds of urban organic waste to be used as compost and mulch; planted more than 185 fruit trees; installed five greywater and rainwater catchment systems that saved tens of thousands of gallons of water; tended to bees, chickens, ducks, quail and rabbits; and worked to reduce energy use and enhance public transportation opportunities. All of this from six households!
Learning traditional skills such as canning, fermenting, soup-making, seed saving, sewing and knitting, beekeeping, candle-making, and water and energy management brings you and your neighbors together in constructive ways.
1. Observe and Interact
Through observation, you will make wiser, more responsive choices about your homestead that will have long-lasting results. Learn everything you can about your bioregion: Can you trace the water you drink from source to tap? Who is growing your food? Where do your garbage and sewage go?
Observation should not only include a clear-eyed assessment of the natural resources where you live — water, sun, wind, and available space for growing — but also interactions with your neighbors. For example, consider how close your neighbors are to where you want to site your chicken coop. Sharing a flock, chores and the bounty with your neighbors will be more efficient.
2. Grow Food in the City
Community gardens provide a great opportunity for you to learn next to other committed gardeners on a small plot of land. If you find yourself looking over the fence at your neighbor’s unkempt yard, you could offer to turn it into a productive garden and share the bounty.
Use vertical spaces, flat rooftops, and abandoned lots. You could even de-pave a driveway. In some cities, the economic downturn has yielded an impressive array of undeveloped lots, many of which can be turned into abundant food-growing zones.
You can grow a lot of food in a small space. On a patio or parking lot, you could plant a garden in raised beds, or in barrels or storage bins with drainage holes punched through the bottom. Many carrots, leeks or potatoes will grow in 5-gallon buckets, and lettuce can spend its whole life in small pots.
3. Source What You Can’t Grow
Farmers markets, community-supported agriculture (CSA) projects and local food co-ops are all great options. Cut out the middleman by joining or starting a bulk-food buying group to purchase staples directly from wholesalers. You can also glean from unused fruit trees, or forage for wild edibles depending on what’s in season.
4. Small-Scale Composting
Compost is the divine alchemy of the garden — the trick of turning “garbage” into fertility. Build a simple compost bin for your backyard in an afternoon by hammering together three wooden pallets. Purchase a pre-made plastic compost bin with a lid if you struggle with vermin visitors or nervous neighbors. You can even simply drill drainage holes in the bottom of a large garbage can with a lid.
A worm bin is a small-scale composting container that can be maintained indoors to transform your smaller kitchen scraps into vermicompost.
5. Raising Livestock in the City
Animals can turn a backyard garden into a mini-farm and provide nitrogen-rich fertilizer. Backyard chickens and rabbits are the most common animals on urban homesteads, and urban beekeepers are growing in number. Check with your local municipality to find out which animals are allowed in your area. Undertaking animal projects with others will spread the work and responsibility.
6. Create Kitchen Magic
Not only will cooking save you money, but it will give you control over the ingredients. Take advantage of cooking classes held near you, gather friends together for kitchen projects and potlucks to share recipes and techniques, and invest time and energy into learning how to provide your own staples.
7. Preserve Food
Freezing, drying and canning — both with water bath and pressure canners — are proven methods of preserving bulk food, seasonal hauls from a local farmer, or your own harvests. If you glean fruits from nearby apple trees or score a large box of super-ripe tomatoes from a farmers market, you’ll want to know how to can apple butter and pasta sauce.
8. Conserve Energy and Produce Your Own Energy
Renters and owners alike can perform energy fixes. Add thermal window shades or clear acrylic panels during winter. Caulk window frames and insulate heating ducts. Adjust your thermostat to be cooler in winter, warmer in summer. Switch to efficient light bulbs, which will pay for themselves in energy savings within a few years.
Use the energy of the sun whenever possible. Install a solar hot water system if you can; string a clothesline no matter what.
9. Manage Urban Water Resources
Greywater is lightly used water that empties from washing machines after the rinse cycle, and from bathroom sinks, showers and baths. Check city ordinances before configuring a greywater system. Catch and store rainwater in swales and earthworks, gutter downspouts diverted into rain barrels, and cisterns.
10. Green Transportation: Cargo Bikes, Bicycle Sharing and Car Sharing
Embrace bicycle travel for mental health as well as physical well-being. Then, hook up a trailer — a cargo bike will pull you into finding out just how much you can haul with two wheels.
If you must drive, consider homebrewing biodiesel fuel. Urbanites are often surrounded by restaurants willing to unload their used vegetable oil.
Excerpted from MOTHER EARTH NEWS, the Original Guide to Living Wisely. To read more articles from MOTHER EARTH NEWS, please visit www.MotherEarthNews.com or call (800) 234-3368 to subscribe. Copyright 2014 by Ogden Publications Inc.
DA Shuts Down Cell of Potential “Agri-Terrorists”: Seed Libraries Outlawed in Pennsylvania
Yep, that is what some folks call gardening these days. The Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture is taking this threat very seriously, and has vowed to crack down on seed libraries across the state.
It looks like Michigan is not the only state with a Department of Agriculture that is adamant about the best interests of their citizens. Residents in Pennsylvania can now breathe a little bit easier since an illegal enterprise has been shut down thanks to the SEED ACT!
The Joseph T. Simpson Public Library in Mechanicsburg was participating in an activity that put the entire ecosystem of the state at risk.
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Yours in freedom,
Bruce ‘the Poor Man’
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