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Increasing Self-Sufficiency – Wendy Weiner

How interesting a season it’s been; yes we are living in the time of COVID-19 but in the garden it’s strange too. We expect spring winds but we also know that they will subside at some point, however this year it seems relentless. Late frosts happen, but at the end of June? It’s been a challenge no doubt but as gardeners we persist nonetheless. Why do we persist? For me it’s the connection to the seasons; starting seeds indoors, planting early greens in April, harvesting Brussels Sprouts in late September, creating compost piles and always adding more garden beds. It’s a rhythm that defines the year and defines me! As a backyard gardener I’ve followed this rhythm my entire adult life. Having a large suburban garden I am often asked if I am self-sufficient. I ‘put up’ my produce by canning, drying, freezing and fermenting the harvest. To the untrained eye it may appear that I am fully self-sufficient however, it’s not at all the case. If nothing else, it gives me an appreciation for what it truly takes to grow enough food for a year to feed ONE person!

What appears to be self-sufficiency is merely supplementary. I depend on farmers and food producers for the bulk of my food. Finally there is a renewed interest in supporting our local farmers and food producers. How fortunate for us living in the San Luis and Arkansas Valley to have farmers producing grains, vegetables, fruit and dairy. There are bakers, artisan cheese makers, CSA’s, brewers and distillers, all working at different scales to supply we the eaters and consumers of these products. As a backyard gardener I am grateful to these people who supply my food for I am intimate with the process. As supply chains are interrupted and cut, as we embrace the new normal, it’s incumbent upon the citizens in our valleys to support our independent local farmers and producers. Our newly formed SOIL Sangre de Cristo group is helping small producers by giving no interest loans. Any farmer or producer can apply for a loan. To become a voting/supporting member a tax deductible, minimum donation of $250, or more, per year is required, $25 if you are a farmer or producer. One person, one vote regardless of the denomination of your donation. This is another way we can get behind our local producers and growers to ensure their livelihoods and our food options are met. Wendy Weiner lives in Salida. She is a founding member of The Salida Seed Library and The Ark Valley Fruit Tree Network and was the owner of The Front Yard Farmer, a gardening service.

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