It’s odd writing about war after suffering through years of tremendous climate and human health challenges. The atrocities being enacted are hard to imagine, let alone watch on the news.
We are all globally connected to what’s happening in Ukraine right now. The price of natural gas, precious metals, fertilizers, animal, and human food are soaring.
Ukraine is the breadbasket of the world, the fourth-largest supplier of wheat and corn. Today’s disruptions will only add to existing food insecurity for millions and lead to more social unrest.
When I think about what I can do to alleviate the impacts of this unraveling dilemma, I think of growing more of my own food.
Having a “smallholding” or small farm that produces a mixture of crops and animals is a personal way to increase my food security. It lightens my global dependency on industrial agriculture and the resources that lead to climate change.
Is a smallholding right for you?
Running a smallholding can be a tremendously valuable experience, even if you’re not planning to monetize and make a profit from the endeavor. Keeping pigs, sheep, horses, and other ‘farmyard animals’ can be quite rewarding.
Raising chickens or a few pigs properly and humanely can grant them a good quality of life and help you fill your fridge and freezer with homegrown food. Is there anything more organic and responsible than sourcing your meat and eggs this way?
But it’s also a lot of work that requires planning and some land.
With access to a little acreage, consider the climate risks.
Is there enough available water? In other words, do you wish to irrigate the space for crop growth, or would you prefer to enact flood defenses? A good drainage system can help you avoid large pools of water in the rainy season.
If you live in a drought-stricken area like I do in California, water is the number one resource I must protect and conserve to be successful.
You’ll need to do some building.
Construction is an investment that will help maintain your smallholding. For instance, the best horse shed can provide you with a great place to shelter horses, keep their feed, prevent pests from building up, as well as ensuring they remain comfortable.
A larger shed can store farming materials, tools, organic inputs and even hay bales. Post-harvest management and storage must be adequate, so crops and animals aren’t exposed to the elements. Necessary construction can be as simple as a concrete platform with a roof. Of course, your needs may differ, but be sure to invest in a worthwhile option to help protect the investment in your food.
What if you don’t have much land?
According to the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), the world’s smallholder farmers produce around a third of the world’s food.
Five of every six farms in the world consist of less than two hectares (under 5 acres), yet they produce roughly 35 percent of the world’s food, according to a study published in World Development.
Their research estimates that there are more than 608 million family farms around the world, and 70 percent of them are less than one hectare (2 acres).
If you don’t own one acre, consider participating in a community garden. The National Community Garden Association has a wonderful map to help locate one near you. Get your Google groove on and find a place to grow your food and create community.
As these challenging times unfold, be resourceful and independent. Take care and feed yourself and your family with homegrown organic food. It’s one place to make a difference right at home during times of war or peace.
Pray for peace and plant a garden.