Why Cultural Diversity Matters to the Modern Homesteading Movement


* This article contains affiliate links. For more information, please read my Affiliate Disclosure.

 

Cultural diversity is as important as plant diversity in the modern homesteading world. Here's how we can all benefit from amplifying BIPOC voices in the modern homesteading community and learning from cultures outside of our own.Have you ever noticed that when you search for homesteading resources online, the vast majority of the resources out there are written or produced from a white, Eurocentric perspective? 

I’ve definitely noticed, and it’s made me think a lot lately about the lack of cultural diversity within the online homesteading world, and how this is negatively affecting the movement (and the message) over all.

In light of recent events, including the Black Lives Matter movement that’s gained massive momentum lately, I’ve been thinking a lot more about diversity and how certain groups are severely underrepresented in the mainstream modern homesteading space.

I’ve thought about how I’ve also failed to represent different cultures and viewpoints when I’ve interviewed guests for Modern Homesteading Magazine each month; Every single interviewee in the first 10 issues published so far has been white!

But the sad part is, that didn’t seem strange to me (or even show up on my radar as an issue) before the murder of George Floyd and the subsequent protests and calls for change woke me up to my own role in perpetuating systemic racism in our society.

People of colour have been asking us to listen; Listen to their stories and their perspectives; Give them space to be heard, to help us learn and grow. This is something we all need to be doing right now, regardless of whether we think of ourselves as racist or not. There’s no downside to hearing other people’s perspectives, especially in a space where white people dominate the conversation most of the time.

I repeat: THERE IS NO DOWNSIDE to hearing other people’s perspectives. 

So today I want to give some space to people of colour in the homesteading world, because as a white woman with mostly white readers, there’s a lot we can learn about homesteading, farming, gardening, food security, self-reliance and sustainability from people of colour.

This is also one of the most powerful ways that we can practice being allies and anti-racists: by listening and learning.

There’s a lot to unpack here, and I know I won’t say all the “right” things or be able to write this without offending someone, but this is too important right now to not talk about. That being said, let’s talk about the importance of cultural diversity in the modern homesteading movement!

I’ve been doing a lot of digging lately, trying to find examples of BIPOC homesteaders (btw, “BIPOC” stands for Black, Indigenous and People Of Colour, in case you’re wondering).

What I’ve found is that there are actually a some BIPOC homesteaders, farmers and gardeners out there sharing their wisdom and experience in the online space, but I’ve had to specifically search for “black” + “homesteading” or “BIPOC” + “farmers” in order to find them.

Almost all homesteading-related blogs, resources and accounts that come up when I search for related topics are white owned and operated. This made me wonder how people of colour feel about the lack of representation in the online and mainstream modern homesteading community. How would I feel?

After all, it’s human nature to look up to others who look like us or who we share a common story or cultural identity with. For this reason, it worries me that this lack of representation could actually end up pushing people of colour away from the modern homesteading movement, or suppressing their voices when what we really need to be doing right now is empowering all people to become more self-reliant, regardless of race, culture, nationality, etc. and holding space for those voices to be a part of the conversation.

Not to mention, everyone can benefit and learn from more cultural diversity in the homesteading world as this means more exposure to different approaches and techniques that can help us grow, raise, produce and preserve our own food; To different edible and medicinal plants and herbs that we might not have known about before; To different dishes and methods of food preparation, cultural traditions and even ancient wisdom about using plants as food and medicine, but that we never get to learn about if we remain stuck in our own cultural bubbles.

As homesteaders, we often talk about the importance of preserving diversity when it comes to the food that we grow; Seed diversity, the preservation of heirloom vegetables and heritage breeds, the benefits of interplanting and growing a diverse array of crops instead of a monoculture… We know that more diversity means a healthier, more robust garden and ecosystem. Yet, we often overlook the importance of cultural diversity in the farming/gardening/homesteading world. Why is that??

I’d venture to say that the vast majority of us white folks have a white, Eurocentric view of homesteading, sustainability, food security and self-reliance. We tend to think of the pioneers and Little House On the Prairie, the Back To The Land movement and escaping the rat race and just generally not being reliant on “the system” to provide for us.

But different cultures have different relationships with the land and with those terms. Homesteading, sustainability, food security, self-reliance, etc. can mean very different things to different ethnic or cultural groups depending on their collective history and their ancestral relationship with the land and with colonialism.

These aren’t my stories to tell though, so today I want to direct you to some resources, including books, blogs, podcasts, social media accounts, etc.) that I’ve been directed to, and that I’m in the process of learning from right now. Please take some time to check them out and learn from them as well as share them with others in the homesteading/sustainability world.

1. Farming While Black by Leah Penniman (book)

I’ve been reading through this book for the past week and it’s not only an eye-opening personal account of what it’s often like for a black person to try to start up a small farming operation in the US, it’s also packed with really practical information and action steps to help you set up your own small farming operation (we’re talking a little bit larger than a small, personal homestead, but smaller than a typical commercial farm).

The information is specifically geared toward black people and people of colour, but a lot of it applies to all people and all of it is useful information for everyone in order to get a better idea of how the agricultural system works (and doesn’t work) for US citizens.

2. The Color of Food: Stories of Race, Resilience and Farming by Natasha Bowens (book)

I have yet to read this one but it’s on my list. It’s about the “intersection of race and food” and highlights growers from all different races and cultural backgrounds, as well as the racial barriers they face and why food plays such an important role in preserving cultural identity. 

3. Freedom Farmers by Monica M. White (book)

Another one on my list to read, this book flips the narrative from agriculture being a symbol of slavery and oppression for black people to a symbol of resistance, justice, self-reliance and sovereignty: All foundational values of the modern homesteading movement.

4. Ron Finley (blog/Masterclass)

I only recently discovered Ron Finley from a Masterclass ad that popped up on my Facebook page and I am HOOKED on his philosophy and approach to gardening! Known as the “Guerrilla Gardener” and/or the “Gangsta Gardener,” Ron started planting vegetables in the “curbside dirt strip” next to his house back in 2010 as a way of bringing fresh produce to his South Central Los Angeles community.

Ron started growing food in the neglected parkways around his community and this act of rebellion got him in trouble with the law (go figure). He was cited for “gardening without a permit.” But that didn’t stop him. He started a petition demanding the right to grow food in his neighbourhood and authorities backed down.

Today, Ron is still working to turn South Central Los Angeles into a thriving “food forest” where men, women and children will always have access to healthy, locally grown food. Ron also teaches a gardening Masterclass where he’ll show you how to “grow your own food, keep your plants alive, and find beauty and freedom in gardening no matter the size of your space.”

Check out this short video to learn more about the powerful movement Ron started to grow and provide fresh food to his urban community.

5. Black People Grow (Instagram account)

This Instagram account highlights black farmers and gardeners and is a great place to discover new people of colour in the online homesteading/agricultural world.

6. Sundance Harvest (Instagram account/website)

An urban farmer growing organic food that’s “rooted in food justice.” From the website: “Sundance Harvest strives to provide resources, knowledge and guidance to start your own food and land sovereignty movements, create your own urban farming practice and to eradicate institutionalized racism within the food system.”

7. 1619 (podcast)

I’ve been listening to this podcast, which is all about the impact that slavery had on everything from music and culture to health care, the economy and the modern agricultural system in America. Episodes 5 and 6 titled “The Land of Our Fathers – Part 1 & 2” explore the relationship between black people and the land in the US, and how racism and prejudice presents specific barriers to black people who want to farm and grow food, even today.

This is a great listen for anyone who wants to learn more about how systemic racism impacts every facet of modern life and specifically how it connects to farming and self-reliance.

8. Undermined At Every Turn: The Lie of the Failed Native Farm On the Prairies (blog/article) 

An eye-opening account of the treatment of Indigenous farmers on the Canadian prairies and the barriers that Indigenous people have faced in the farming/agricultural world and in their quest for self-reliance and autonomy. Written from the perspective of a Métis blogger. This is especially poignant for fellow Canadians who think that we don’t have a problem with racism in our country, and it’s just one of many examples of how systemic racism has affected Indigenous people and communities all over North America.

This is by no means an extensive list. I’m still actively seeking BIPOC voices in the homesteading community and I promise to highlight more as I discover them. In the meantime, please share any more resources you may know of, including blogs, books, Youtube channels, podcasts, social media accounts, etc. by people of colour. List any recommendations in the comments below!

If you yourself are a person of colour, I invite you to add your voice to the conversation by commenting below. I would love to hear your story and your perspective on this topic if you fee inclined to share!

Let’s all do our part to amplify BIPOC voices in our community, and do the work that it takes for us to learn and grow, both as homesteaders and as human beings. Let’s start right here, right now.

In solidarity,

 

 

 

 


CATEGORIES
HOMESTEADING
REAL FOOD
NATURAL LIVING

4 Comments

  1. Araina

    Thank you so much Anna. This is so beautiful. Now more than ever we need to be united in love, and I really appreciate this thoughtful and loving act.

    I highly recommend Grow Family Network and Homestead Heart on Youtube as two great BIPOC homesteaders I’ve been watching.

    Reply
    • Anna Sakawsky

      Thank you for the recommendations! I’ll be sure to check them out:)

      Reply
  2. Vickie Conmy

    Anna I want to give you a big virtual hug! 🤗
    This is an excellent post. I so appreciate your sharing your “awakening” and the fact that you are taking the next step to educate yourself and others and share resources.
    Many of us (BIPOC) wonder if this is just a moment and when the moment passes will most White people retreat back into the comfortable place of willful ignorance. Articles like your give me hope that there are other courageous, moral, and thoughtful people who are willing to do the uncomfortable (yet rewarding) work of waking up and becoming part of the solution. As a new homesteader of color, I look forward to more inspiration from you.

    Reply
    • Anna Sakawsky

      Hi Vickie!

      Thanks so much for your support. It’s time we look beyond the white, western narrative and start making space for other voices.

      I’m so excited to be discovering amazing new people in the agricultural space that I never would have found without this “movement” pushing me out of my comfort zone.

      I’m excited to do better and be better, and to hear more black and brown perspectives on Homesteading and self-reliance (and everything else!)

      Much love ❤️
      Anna

      Reply

Submit a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

ABOUT ANNA
Hi! I’m Anna, and I’m a city girl turned modern homesteader who’s passionate about growing, cooking and preserving real food at home, creating my own herbal medicine and all-natural home and body care products, and working toward a simpler, more sustainable and self-sufficient life each and every day. 
You Might Also Like
4 Ways to Preserve Herbs At Home

4 Ways to Preserve Herbs At Home

Every year without fail, I wait until the last possible moment to harvest and preserve everything out of our garden, including my herbs. Sure, I harvest things throughout the season to eat or enjoy fresh, but when it comes to preserving (as with many other things),...

read more

Roasted Radishes With Honey Butter & Thyme

Roasted Radishes With Honey Butter & Thyme

  * This article contains affiliate links. For more information, please read my Affiliate Disclosure.   I’ve never been a fan of radishes. As a kid, the only time I ever remember eating radishes was in salad. Always that flavourless garden salad made with...

read more

We’ve been saving up cardboard for months now. We’ve had 6 yards of mulch sitting in our driveway for weeks, and we’ve weeded the same areas of our garden more times than I can count. Not to mention, mulching our garden paths has been on our to-do list ever since we put in our main garden 3 years ago.

It’s been a long time coming, but we’re finally getting around to tackling this task and it’s about to make our work (and our lives) A LOT easier.

While I’m a huge proponent of investing time and money up front to do things the right way and make life easier right off the bat, the reality is that it’s not always feasible or affordable to do all of the things you want to do right away. This is true for homesteading and for life in general; You just have to do what you can with what you’ve got and chip away at your goals little by little.

We’re still a long ways off from where we want to be and from what we envision for this property when we’re through with it. And we still have a dream someday move to a larger property where we’ll add all sorts of new projects to our to-do list! But although some days it seems as if we’ll never be done (and truthfully, we probably won’t), it’s days like this that make me stand back and say “holy crap, look how far we’ve come!”

This is so important to remember, no matter where you are on your journey. Always take time to celebrate your accomplishments and don’t dwell on all of the things you still need to do. Just focus on the next thing and little by little it will start to come together. Take things one step, one day and one cardboard box at a time, and eventually you too will look back and say “holy crap, look how far I’ve come.”
.
.
.
#humanswhogrowfood #gardenersofinstagram #gardenersworld #growfoodnotlawns #growyourownfood #homesteading #homesteadersofinstagram
...

(1/5) The past few weeks have been some of the most difficult to date in my occupation as a homesteader and a blogger.

I've had to do a lot of soul-searching to really, truly, deeply ask myself why?

Why have I chosen this path, and why is it important to me to share it with the world??

The truth is, I've talked about my "why" before. I don't homestead and grow food and cook and preserve and preach about sustainability and self-reliance and self-determination simply because I think homegrown tomatoes are healthier and taste better than store-bought tomatoes. Sure, this is part of it, but it's not the part that drives me to put in the long hours and hard work that goes into the line of work I've chosen.

What drives me to do what I do and to share my passion for homesteading and self-sufficiency with the world comes from a place deep inside me that sees the wrongs in our system, and wants to do whatever I can to challenge them and make them right.

I've talked many, many times about the flaws with our modern, industrialized food system, and about how homesteading is a way to take back some control over our food supply and buck this system. (Yes, that's buck, with a "b" ;)

I talk all the time about the importance of supporting small farmers and local businesses instead of big corporations, and about the importance of voting with your dollars.

And I preach the importance of community, and why it's so important to support each other and find support in your community, whether in your local community or online. Because self-sufficiency is about more than each individual person or family; It's about empowering entire communities of people to rise up and take control of their own food supply and basic needs, and break free from the cycle of dependency on the system that most of us are born into.

To me, homesteading is about so much more than the act of growing and preparing food, or DIY-ing your own soap or candles or toothpaste. Quite honestly, it's a way for everyday people to take back control over their own lives and throw a proverbial middle finger to "the system" and the status quo.

(Continued in comments...)
...

One of my favourite ways to use rhubarb in the spring is to turn it into a delicious rhubarb juice concentrate to mix with soda water, juice or cocktails for a refreshing bevvies all summer long.

This is one of the most popular recipes on my site, and even includes canning instructions so you can put some up to enjoy all year long! I’ve been sharing it on social media every spring for years now, but all of a sudden Facebook won’t let me post it because apparently it “goes against their community standards,” and Instagram let me post the photo, but when I added the link to the caption they just deleted the entire caption without warning.

A reader of mine who tried to share this recipe a couple weeks ago suspects that it’s because the word “shooting” appeared in the post, when I talked about our rhubarb stalks “shooting” out of the ground. I’ve since changed that sentence and appealed to the FB gods, but so far to no avail.

Luckily, however, I was able to share the recipe in my IG link, so make sure to head over there now to get the recipe before it’s too late! Maybe even print it for future reference. After all, you just never know when the Internet is gonna “disappear” your favourite recipes forever 😜

Link in bio (for now anyway) @thehouseandhomestead
...

Every year without fail, I wait until the last possible moment to harvest and preserve everything out of our garden, including our herbs.

Not only does this leave me stressed and overwhelmed and wanting to pull my hair out come summer and fall, but herbs are actually best when harvested in the springtime anyway, when they're still young and tender. So this year I'm getting a head start on preserving season by preserving our first batch of herbs in the spring, well before any of the summer fruits and vegetables are ripe for the picking.

Join me in the herb garden and then follow me into the kitchen where I'll show you a few of my favourite ways to preserve fresh herbs at home to enjoy all year round. Be sure to stick along til the end and enjoy a garden fresh mojito with me (wherever you are, it’s 5:00 somewhere, right ;)

Link in bio @thehouseandhomestead or go to https://youtu.be/Qr11BK5J5aU to watch the full video and get all my favourite herb preserving recipes!
...

So this is 34...

(1/3) When I look back on my 34 tours around the sun, all I can say is WOW! How incredibly blessed I’ve been.

In my younger years, I had the privilege of travelling around the world and living abroad 3 times, long before borders closed and travelling became more of a nightmare than a dream.

When I returned home to my roots, I completed my second degree in education (my first degree is in journalism) and I married the love of my life. During these years of schooling and settling into domestic life in Vancouver, we started learning more about where our food comes from and how reconnecting with nature could help relieve much of the crippling anxiety that I felt living in the city, so we set a goal to move to Vancouver Island where we could afford more land and start farming and gardening once we were married and I was done school. With laser focus and intention placed on this goal, the stars aligned and we made our move 6 years ago now. We’ve never looked back.

While our initial move brought heartache when we had a major accident on the way to our new home and lost a beloved family pet, I was soon comforted when I learned I was pregnant with our first child.

I also stumbled into the perfect teaching job at a beautiful little school with an ocean view, where I worked until I gave birth. But I didn’t feel truly fulfilled as a teacher. I’ve always wanted to write and create content to share with the world, but I didn’t know exactly how I would do this or what form it would take.

Then, while on maternity leave, I learned about the world of blogging, and that there were many people who have made a very lucrative career out of creating and sharing online content with the world. The lightbulb went off and I knew immediately that this was my calling. I also knew exactly what I wanted to write about and share: I wanted to share my passion for growing, cooking and preserving real food, and living a more sustainable life. I wanted to teach and inspire others to pursue their own homesteading dreams like we had, and show them that if we could do it, so could they.

Continued in comments...
...

I have a confession to make...

I don’t like radishes. But I love to grow them, which has created quite a dilemma in the past. That is, until I discovered ROASTED RADISHES!

Talk about a game changer! Roasting radishes completely takes the bite out of radishes (ya know, that spiciness that fresh radishes are known for). Plus, the addition of honey butter elevates even the most boring side dish of radishes to a dish you’re gonna wanna lick clean! Not that I’ve done that or anything 😳

My favourite radishes to grow are an heirloom variety called French Breakfast radishes (pictured here). They’re long and cylindrical rather than round and they’re an absolute beauty in the garden and on a plate!

But any radishes will work for this recipe. And if you’ve got some fresh thyme growing in your herb garden, toss in a few sprigs to compliment the flavours in this dish.

I’ve gone from disliking radishes to literally salivating over this dish, so much so that I had to share the recipe!

Whether or not you love radishes fresh, these roasted radishes are a total game changer and a sure crowd pleaser. But don’t take my word for it. Do yourself a favour and try ‘em for yourself:)

Recipe link in bio @thehouseandhomestead or go to https://thehouseandhomestead.com/roasted-radishes-with-honey-butter/
.
.
.
#radishes #roastedradishes #radishrecipes #farmtotable #gardentotable #humanswhogrowfood #growfoodnotlawns #homesteadkitchen #nomnom #droolclub
...

🕷 There was a time in my life when finding a nest of spiders on my garden gate, VERY close to the handle, would have easily been considered one of my worst nightmares.

Seriously... Growing up I HATED spiders and was so terrified of them. One time there was a single spider on my grandma’s car window and I said “look Nanny, it’s Arachnophobia!” Anybody remember that movie? Let’s just say that it haunted me for many years of my life!

But when I started gardening and reconnecting with nature, suddenly spiders went from being something I was afraid of to something I welcomed on our property.

In the spring, I love seeing the garden spiders (I have no clue what they’re actually called) running around close to my fingers as I plant out seeds, many of them carrying large egg sacs on their back.

In the fall I love watching orb spiders spin their webs that capture the last of the summer rays and the first of the fall raindrops on their silky threads.

Even in the bathroom (why do spiders gravitate to the bathroom??) I always try not to kill the spiders that I find, but relocate them to the garden instead. A healthy garden is teeming with spiders and worms and butterflies and bees. A healthy garden is full of healthy life, and just like good bacteria helps ward off bad bacteria in our bodies, so too do the “good bugs” help to control the bad bugs in the garden, and spiders are one of the most beneficial bugs when it comes to that!

It’s amazing how much living close to the land changes you and gives you a greater respect for all life. As much as I’m still not ready to put my hands out and hold a spider (I literally passed out when I was a kid and tried to hold someone’s pet tarantula), I am learning to coexist with all things, and appreciate the unique purpose that every living thing serves here on Earth.

As much as it may seem like we have nothing in common, if you take a moment to just observe nature or sit in stillness by your garden gate, you’re sure to realize we all have more in common than most people might think.
...

© The House & Homestead | All Rights Reserved | Legal

Crafted with ♥ by Inscape Designs