It has been 4 months since I announced my “Food Freedom” project, where I will grow and forage 100% of my food for one year, while living in the city of Orlando, Florida.
It’s now time to share an update with you!
Since that announcement I have been in the preparation stage – visiting farms and gardens, talking to dozens of food growers, reading, researching and figuring out the many logistics of meeting all of my food needs for an entire year. It’s hard to remember what I didn’t know when I started, but I can say for certain that I am substantially more knowledgeable about growing food today.
Of course, I have been doing a whole lot of planting food too. I have planted food in five different yards in the neighborhood. Just four months into the project, I am already at the point of being overwhelmed with having TOO MUCH food on many days. Many neighbors come to the garden to harvest food and I’m often sending guests home with armloads of food. I’ve got the nutrient aspect down pretty well. Calories, fat and protein are still in the works, but I do know what I need to do to meet those needs.
Originally, I planned to officially start the year in June. I have decided to push the start date back to October or November. I have been quite distracted from this project on many days as I dove pretty deep into the other aspect of Food Freedom, which is empowering and helping others to grow their own food. I have launched Gardens for Single Moms, Free Seed Project and Community Fruit Trees since arriving in Orlando. We are currently building our fifth garden for single moms in my neighborhood, sending out our 2,000th free garden starter kit (to people in all fifty states) this week, and will be planting 100 community fruit trees this month. Also, this week I am starting to offer weekly gardening for beginners’ classes in one of my gardens. Because of these initiatives I have certainly put less time into my personal quest to grow and forage 100% of my food. However, the whole purpose of this project is to help thousands and thousands of people across the world to gain independence from the industrial, globalized food system and to achieve greater levels of happiness, health, and sustainability. I’d say that I’ve accomplished a fair bit of that already this year.
I’m feeling healthier and happier than before the project started. You’ve seen less of me online, and that’s because I’ve been off the computer and in the garden. On a personal level that may be the most refreshing and healthy part of this entire project. Picking my own food from the garden every day is pretty darn refreshing too, though. And the little red potatoes that I grew were the best that I have ever tasted.
This photo is of the first garden that I started. It was just a lawn in December, mostly devoid of life. Today it’s bustling with butterflies, native bees, birds, lizards, toads, and many other creatures. This little patch of land has come to life and it’s a bright beacon in the community. It all came from some soil, water, seeds, and desire for a better world.
I’m not a highly skilled or expert gardener and I am really amazed at what I’ve accomplished in the last four months. If you have a dream similar to mine, I’m confident to say that you must start with where you are. You can’t start anywhere else and you can’t be anyone else. For you, that might just be one tomato or basil plant. Or it could be a single raised bed to start with. With love, care, time and dedication you can reach your larger aspirations and goals. But you must start where you are. Don’t be overwhelmed; instead, be excited.
Happiness, health, and sustainability to you all,
P.S. At this point I haven’t used a single pesticide, herbicide, or synthetic ingredient. Not even an organic pesticide. The only ingredients I have used are cardboard, mulch, mushroom compost, water, seeds and seedlings. I hope to keep that up!
Update: I completed the year. Watch the summary of the experience here: