Community Philosphy Blog and Library

HOMEGROWN Life: A Year Without…What?






Our intentions when developing our property was that we wanted to produce all of our needed food. While this is a commendable ideal, it likely won’t happen as our lot is just too small. We can definitely come close, but no cigar. We just don’t have the space to produce all the items we use like wheat and animal feed. Oil is another issue. We do have olive trees, but olive oil can’t be used for everything as it’s flavor can sometimes be too strong (example: extra virgin olive oil in mayo is just wrong in my opinion). Then there is also sugar. Sure, we can use honey for a lot of things, but sometimes we just won’t have enough honey to cover our needs, esp. during canning season.


So our big news is this: We’ve got a new project! We started this new project on October 1st. Why October 1st?. It’s as good a time as any and to be honest I was too excited to wait any longer.

OK, I guess it’s time to tell you what the project actually is. We are going to do a year without purchasing food from supermarkets, box stores and restaurants. All food we purchase for the year will be from alternative sources (mostly from our garden, but supplemented by farmer’s markets, CSAs, ranchers, dairies, traditional butchers, co-ops, etc) and all of it will be minimally processed. Any extra processing (baking, cooking, grinding, etc) will be done by us.

So why are we doing this crazy project? Well the seed was planted when I read an article. The author stated that living without industrial, fast food is impossible in today’s society and those that say you can are naive at best. We then watched No Impact Man and his willingness to go without for one year really inspired us. Sure people have already done things similar, such as Alisa Smith and J.B. MacKinnon wrote about in their book Plenty: Eating Locally on the 100-Mile Diet and Barbara Kingsolver wrote about in Animal, Vegetable, Miracle: A Year of Food Life (P.S.). But here we’re trying to do something different. Our main focus is to produce as much of our food as possible from our own suburban yard (Kingsolver fed her family while living on a rural farm). Locally grown food (what Smith and MacKinnon focused on) will supplement it of course, but it won’t be our main food source.


Right now I’m finding that we are still much too dependent on the grocery store even though we wanted to grow all of our own food. So with this experiment we’re hoping to force ourselves out of that dependency. I will be chronicling everything over at our new blog A Year Without Groceries. Come join us on this journey and find out if we can actually do it.

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Rachel Brinkerhoff, Dog Island Farm

My friends in college used to call me a Renaissance woman. I was always doing something crafty, creative, or utilitarian. I still am. My focus these days, instead of arts and crafts, has been farming as much of my urban quarter acre as humanly possible. With my husband, we run Dog Island Farm in the SF Bay Area. We raise chickens, goats, rabbits, dogs, cats, and a kid. We’re always keeping busy. If I’m not out in the yard I’m in the kitchen making something from scratch. Homemade always tastes better!

6 Responses to “HOMEGROWN Life: A Year Without…What?”

  1. Wow. That is not going to be easy. Looking forward to it.

  2. Fantastic! Good luck, I’ll be following the blog 🙂

  3. What do you feed the dog?

  4. Cheesy Bob, the dogs and cats kind of get a pass because we can’t source that much meat and be able to store it, let alone afford it. They get pet food, though we do buy their food at a specialty pet store, so I suppose it kind of qualifies.

  5. Rachel

    I wish you all the very best with your project. Not only is it doable, but there is really no excuse for any of us with a little bit of homesteading land not to be self-sufficient. In fact, I have written several articles showing people that it is certainly possible to be self-sufficient on a fifth of an acre!

    I always say turn those lawns into lunch, become locavores and definitely stay away from fast foods and food trash. Eat well and stay healthy!

    I am also very glad to see that you will be supporting your local farmers. Just how many farmers loose their livelihoods because people prefer imported fruit and vegetables over what is grown in their own states.

    All the best! I would be interested in seeing how you get on.

  6. This is one of the most entertaining hours I’ve spent online, cool blog.

    What you describe seems so common sense easy to me and the person who mentions it is impossible is probably convinced of the absolute opposite.

    I’ve never lived in the City but could see why it would be tough to do what you describe there. I run into a lot of people who buy food to haul to the cities because apparently people there pay too much for it.

    I think the root of this issue is we were never meant to live in cities stacked up in buildings with no yards, just like chickens, pigs and cows weren’t meant to live in commercial farming facilities.

    We have and live in these mega metros as a direct result of the industrial age and public schools which are both new ideas that are changing. People left the family farms to get jobs to buy stuff due in large part to invention of maketing, corporations and profit.

    Thank God we can move.

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