My market economy job gives me a chance to talk to a lot of people on a daily basis and I get to hear fear in its many manifestations. Well off, middle income, poor, everyone is not only feeling fear but expressing it.
One fear is that you will not have food to eat. It is possible. The market economy is designed to move money up, therefore it is unsustainable and breaks on a regular basis. Very regular. We are approaching one of those breaks.
This break is serious because more of our basic needs are met by the market economy than ever before. There are few mortgage-free homes, more apartment dwellers, fewer food producing gardens, even fewer small local farms to provide food. All of those things have stabilized market economy breakdowns in the past. Not this time.
We cannot move away from fear until we become more self-sufficient in providing for our basic survival. Plus we have to be able to keep enough of that food production to feed ourselves, our families, our friends, and others.
In case of a meltdown, the best way to have “operational security” or “opsec” in food production is to hide it in plain sight.
It is a rare person who can walk through my Food Forest and notice that it produces food.
I have no idea how much my Food Forest can produce because I am only harvesting a fraction of the food produced. The bulk of the food produced is eaten by wildlife.
None of my fruit trees are planted in view of the road. All are woven into the woods. Most people cannot distinguish a fruit tree in a yard unless it is fruiting. Completely out of place in a forest, they will not even see it. Once they start fruiting, I will take more fruit and preserve some, but a Food Forest is polycultural not a monocultural orchard with 50 apple trees.
The point is to have something edible every month of the year. Having winter edibles outside is not just for birds and deer. Not sure I could survive on juniper berries like they seem to, but I know I want some of those rose hips.
A Food Forest does not look like a single cash crop that can be stolen or rot in the fields for lack of labor to pick it or diesel for a machine. The harvesting is spread out so if I dry or can some
It delivers new surprises every day. If you need to eat corn at every meal every day of the year, monoculture is your game. If you are thrilled to eat blueberries then switch to blackberries or strawberries then to elderberries, and so on, eating each in its season, and growing just enough for the season… that is polyculture.
As my plants mature and spread I produce enough to preserve for the year. But I don’t preserve blueberries for every day. I preserve a much smaller amount because I preserve a much larger variety of foods.
Eventually, I start feeding family, then friends. I am more likely to gift a variety of foods that make meals, than inundate someone with 20 pounds of zucchini that needs putting up by tommorrow.
So my Louisiana Sage will be harvested within the week, dried, and put into a quart jar. It will become tea now and again, but basically becomes deodorant.
My mallow will be harvested and dried, and put into a one-half gallon jar to be used as hair conditioner.
My Oregano will be harvested, dried, and put into a pint jar. It will be used all winter in Posole or Spaghetti sauce.
Elderberries were dried for teas but next year will also become 4 cups of Elderberry preserves and maybe Elderberry wine. The birds get a lot of these.
And so on until the year slides into winter. I end up with large total amounts but not large single crops. Pumpkins over 13 pints will go elsewhere.
I usually collect about 20 seed varieties for winter sprouting. Wild Amaranth is a favorite. Chenopodium is another. This is where those tiny wild edible seeds come into their own. Who would steal a small container of seeds marked Chenopodium? In the spring, any leftover seeds can be sprinkled back into the Food Forest.
All the pots I brought in for winter greens are also sprouting my local mustard greens. I will weed them as desired and add them to my meals. I have another container with seeds and add them to soups.
What looter is going to eat your house plants? Put them into decorative pots.
The sheer variety of foods, ripening all season, is invisible to all but a few people. Tomatoes are harder, but I grow the indeterminate climbers and they can grow over a green shrub. Cherry heirloom varieties in different colors growing into a shrub are rarely seen as tomatoes.
I have deep beds where I mix shrubs, flowers, vegetables, and wild edibles and they are admired but are seldom seen as vegetable gardens. Food Forests less so. They are universally seen as flower beds because eyes see blooming flowers and something is always blooming in the border. Flowers steal every show.
Is this a total fix for food insecurity? No. But sometimes what is hidden right before your eyes is hidden best of all.
Mentioning all encounters with rattlesnake, bear, coyote, and puma is a good idea. Don’t sigh sweetly about Bambi even if he is your favorite.