Friday, March 16, 2012

Independence Days: book review and challenge

I've been reading Sharon Astyks book Independence Days: A Guide to Sustainable Food Storage & Preservation.  I have already found it to be a "go-to" book to keep myself motivated to keep moving forward with food storage and food preservation.  Sharon wrote the following on her blog recently and I want to play along - she calls it her Independence Days Challenge.  Read on!


Well, to general acclaim I’m bringing back the Independence Days challenge and I do hope you’ll all sign up and participate. 

The whole idea is to get the positive sense of your accomplishments – it is easy to think we haven’t done anything to move forward, but in fact, we all do, almost every day. We just think of accomplishment as a big thing – a whole day spent putting up applesauce or a hundred tomato plants. The Independence Day project makes us count our little accomplishments and see that we are moving forward. So for each week, tell us what you have done in the following categories:

Plant something: A lot of us were trained to think of planting as done once a year, but if you start seeds, do season extension and succession plant, you’ll get much, much more out of your garden, so I try and plant something every day from February into September.

Harvest something: Everything counts – from the milk and eggs you get from your animals to the first dandelions from your yard to 50 bushels of tomatoes – it all counts.

Preserve something: Again, I find preserving is most productive if I try and do a little every day that there is anything, from the first dried raspberry leaves and jarred rhubarb to the last squashes at the end of the season.

Waste not: Reducing food waste, composting everything or feeding it to animals, reducing your use of disposables and creation of garbage, reusing things that would otherwise go to waste, making sure your preserved and stored foods are kept in good shape – all of these count.

Want Not: Adding to your food storage or stash of goods for emergencies, building up resources that will be useful in the long term.

Eat the Food: Making full and good use of what you have, making sure that you are getting everything you can from your food, trying new recipes and new cooking ideas, eating out of your storage!

Build community food systems: What have you done to help other people have better food access or to make your local food system more resilient?

Skill up: What did you learn this week that will help you in the future – could be as simple as fixing the faucet or as hard as building a shed, as simple as a new way of keeping records or as complicated as making shoes. Whatever you are learning, you get a merit badge for it – this is important stuff.

Ok, let’s see what we can get done!
Happy Independence Days!


I think it's a GREAT idea.  I can already see that keeping track every day isn't going to happen most of the time but being aware of these specific areas, setting some goals for the week and reporting on my progress might help.  Will you join me?  Jump right in!  It's not a competition - let's just see what we can do!


  1. I would love to join up as I was thinking of starting the same thing on my blog! I have just finished reading Sharon Astyk's Depletion and Abundance and she talks about 'independence days' there also. I really love that it is a concrete thing to do and would love to be 'accountable' in some way to make sure I do it! Do you have a certain day of the week for reporting back in mind? Then I can link my post back to your blog.
    By the way, is that a photo of your canning shelves? If so, I have serious envy!!
    OK, off to peel the skins off peaches I poached last night - I have about 20+ kgs of peaches to process at the moment!

    1. Hi Jayne! I was afraid to give myself a specific day for fear of setting myself up for failure but since I'll have YOU to keep me accountable (anyone else?) I'm going to GO FOR IT! How about Mondays? with no stress if life gets in the way.

      The canning shelves are NOT mine - I can dream though!

      Peaches...yum. I am looking forward to our spring fruit but we'll have a few months to go before we see any of them! Welcome to the blog my new Aussie friend - my son-in-law is Aussie so you have a special place in my heart :)

  2. Mondays - I am there! It will be great to have a 'reason' to keep on with everything. Still reading through all your posts, laughing a lot!


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