“Growing your own food is like printing your own money.” – Ron Finley

 Farmers are usually ‘short’ people.  Short on time.  Short on parts.  Short on money.  Because of that, we have learned the art of being adaptable.  We have learned how to multi-task; we have learned how to improvise; we have learned how to squeeze a penny so hard that Lincoln jumps off to go get help. So when I saw this quote by Ron Finley, founder and volunteer for L.A. Green Grounds, I knew immediately why he feels this way.

For our farm, one of our main goals is to raise and produce as much of our own food as we can.  It didn’t take us but one season to figure out that purchasing plants was an expensive way to go, so we opted to raise our own from seeds.  Even then, we were determined to cut costs even more.  With that in mind, we started researching our options on heirloom seeds.  Heirlooms can be grown from seed, harvested, and by choosing a few of the healthiest, best looking fruits, we are able to have next year’s seeds.  We are still in the learning phase, but economically, it is well worth our continued efforts.

Raising your own food also means many other things.  It means knowing where your food comes from.  It means a cost reduction in the grocery bill.  It means having a larger variety to choose from.  It also means you will have to sacrifice a bit.  You sacrifice getting that uniform, perfectly shaped tomato every time, and instead you get incredible flavor.   Considering the last tomatoes I bought in a grocery store tasted a little too closely to cardboard for my liking, I think it is a sacrifice worth making.

It amazes me, then, with all these perks of having fresh produce at your fingertips, that more people don’t grow their own.  Yes, I do know the excuses.  Limited space.  Limited time.  Hard work.  And even the one I have tried:  “I don’t think my hands will fit that hoe!”  (I lost on that one.  The Country Boy built me one designed for my grip, and even stenciled my name on the bottom.  Huh…)

In response to all those excuses, I say, “Phooey”.  Limited space is truly no excuse, as there are ways you can grow your vegetables in containers.  If the container is big enough, you can even do companion planting, which means more grown in a smaller space.  My cousin, Stephen and his wife, Rose, are successfully maintaining a garden using the Dutch Bucket System.  (For more information on this process, here is one good link to check out:  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nXy32Dr4Z4A ).  It is inexpensive to do and saves quite a bit of time.  In fact, the Dutch Bucket System can eliminate all of the excuses. 

We may not legally be able to mint our own money, but we can take steps to help keep a little of what we earn.  Learn to grow at least a few of your own fruits, vegetables and herbs, and you will soon find that just maybe you can give Abraham Lincoln a little bit of breathing room.  Instead of making excuses, stretch your food budget and find a few reasons to start a garden this year.  If nothing else, the thought of delicious, vine-ripened tomatoes should be enough of an incentive for just about anyone. 

If you need some help getting started, let me know.  If I can’t answer your questions, I can contact quite a few small farmers and homesteaders that would be delighted in helping out!