Having just finished planting my sugar peas, I stepped back and mulled over topics for this weekend’s farm note. The peas are planted in a small bed in front of the potting shed, a sheltered area I’m hoping will stay cool enough to still yield a crop for the table in late May or early June. Fresh from plunging my hands in the dirt, I thought, perhaps I’ll write about the sense of touch?
Then I recalled a conversation with a friend this past week: “We know where to go when everything falls apart,” he said. I laughed for a couple of reasons. First, a recent blog I’d read had touched on that very comment. Second, if every friend or family member acted on that impulse, our small farm would quickly become overpopulated and over-used.
Now, people partly say that to express appreciation for the hard work we put into maintaining our farm. Perhaps, too, they say it to acknowledge the vague doubt that the system of global growth can continue forever. It is perhaps hardwired in our DNA to expect bad things to happen—a poor crop, a midnight raid on the village, the Black Death, a new religion and its accompanying war.
I’m not able to see into the future. But it is reasonable, based on human history, to expect periodic boom and bust cycles. And, I’m of the camp that believes that our increased ability to strip-mine the environment has led to a host of problems that may very well take the gloss off our shiny gadgets.
But here is some advice to everyone who wants to “bug out” to their friends’ or family’s farm in the event of the next depression, pandemic, or climatic catastrophe. Get to know your neighbors, wherever you live. Make that the start of your new community. Remember, community begins at home. Then learn to grow some food. Building community and producing your own food will do more to bring you security than hightailing it to the hinterlands.
By all means put some food aside for emergencies. But know this: it might be better to plant a few peas in that unused area by the garage, kale along the driveway, or potatoes over the dog’s grave.
You might find, as my cousin in Beaumont, Texas, has discovered, that you don’t need seventy acres of land to have a good amount of food security. In his small backyard he grows enough produce for his family, with plenty to spare for the weekly farmer’s market. And he has earned a place in the community from taking an active part in his town and church for many years.
So grow something and give it to the neighbors you just met. Those acts of growing and becoming part of your community are better security than any bug-out plan you might dream up.
Besides, our farm really doesn’t have room for all of you.
Reading this weekend: The Mammoth Book of Best British Mysteries, because sometimes you just need a break.