Why Cultural Diversity Matters to the Modern Homesteading Movement


* This article may contain 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

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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. 
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Okay, I’m just gonna come out and say it: I’m a total sucker for pumpkin spice.

Call me #basic, but it’s the truth.

In fact, I’m all about everything fall: the colours, the coziness, the sweater weather, and yes, pumpkins and pumpkin spice. There’s just something comforting and nostalgic about it; Like grandma’s kitchen or the warm scent of pumpkin pie that wafts from the table at holiday dinners with family and friends.

What I’m NOT all about are the chemical preservatives and lab-created “natural flavours” in most store-bought and coffee shop pumpkin spice syrups and lattes. Not to mention, I don’t exactly love paying $5.00 or more for a single drink at a cafe.

This homemade pumpkin spice syrup, made with REAL pumpkin and spices and NO added preservatives solves all of these problems... It’s 100% natural and costs just pennies per batch. (And trust me when I say it rivals even the famed Starbucks #PSL when added to a homemade latte).

You definitely want to try this at home this pumpkin spice season. Er, I mean this fall 😉

Click the link in my bio @thehouseandhomestead for the full recipe or go to https://thehouseandhomestead.com/homemade-pumpkin-spice-syrup/
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#pumpkinspice #pslseason #pumpkinseason #homemade #fallvibes #flavorsoffall #homesteadkitchen
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As much as I'm honestly kinda over the garden by this time of year and ready to tuck in indoors and rest for a while, I know that the effort I put into my garden in the fall will pay a huge return come next spring and summer when we're ready to plant and then harvest our next round of crops.

For one, fall is the best time to amend and enrich your soil, so adding compost or manure or some sort of organic matter is pretty crucial this time of year.

Also, you should always cover your soil, especially over the winter months when soil is more likely to erode and nutrients can get washed away. A cover crop or a thick layer of mulch is a good idea to help keep your soil protected and intact.

And of course, garlic should be planted in the fall before your first frost to ensure huge bulbs next summer. Us homesteaders always have to be thinking ahead a few seasons!

I'm taking you into our garden as we're tearing it down and planting out our garlic. I'll show you our fall gardening routine and I'll walk you through planting garlic so you can start growing it at home too! (It's honesty the easiest, most rewarding crop that we grow).

It's time for the grand finale in the garden this year as we tear it down and prep it for next spring. Will you join me for one last hurrah?

Link in bio @thehouseandhomestead or go to https://youtu.be/llNFlxxUV-I
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First batch of homemade candles for the season. It’s a cold, grey day and we’re about to light the woodstove for the first time this season too. Now I have some homemade spice-scented candles to go with the cozy vibe:)

I LOVE candles, but good ones are pretty expensive to buy. However, since I started making candles myself I haven’t bought a single one from the store and I’ve probably saved myself hundreds of dollars.

I make at least a batch or two (or three) of these scented soy wax candles every year around this time. I burn a bunch of them myself over the winter and we gift them for Christmas. I’ve even sold them for upwards of $15 a piece!

If you want an easy and rewarding DIY project to get into as we head into fall and winter, homemade candles is your answer.

Click the link in my bio @thehouseandhomestead or go to https://thehouseandhomestead.com/homemade-soy-candles-essential-oils to learn how to make them yourself!
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#homemade #handmade #candles #diy
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Sometimes I question why I do what I do. Why do I take on so much? Why do I bother making everything from scratch and growing a garden and preserving food when I could just as well buy it from the store and save myself a ton of time and effort?⁣⁣⁣
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Why am I working hard to build a business out of my passion when I could just as easily go to work for a pay check and just enjoy homesteading as a hobby on the side?⁣⁣⁣
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Why do I choose to do everything the hard way and see against the grain? Why not just go with the flow and hope for the best?⁣⁣⁣
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I can’t say for sure that I would have chosen to follow all the same paths that I’ve gone down over the past few years had I not become a mother, but what I 𝘥𝘰 know for sure is that my beautiful daughter is worth every ounce of hard work; every dollar I’ve invested in our future goals and dreams; every late night work fest and canning session; every seed planted and loaf of bread baked.⁣

She’s worth it because I want to give her the best I can in life. I want her to eat good food and live a long and healthy life. I want to teach her how to be self-sufficient so that she has the skills she needs no matter what kind of world awaits her in the future. And I want to show her that anything is possible and any dream is worth pursuing, even if the work that it takes to achieve it is harder than following the herd and taking the road of least resistance.⁣⁣⁣
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This little human right here: this is my why. This girl and her goofy smile make everything worthwhile ❤️⁣⁣⁣
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What (or who?) is your why?
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This growing season has seriously been the strangest I’ve experienced so far. Summer came so late we thought it wasn’t gonna come at all. Our greens and peas and spring crops produced for weeks longer then they normally do as we waited FOREVER for our tomatoes and peppers and summer crops to grow and ripen.

Now that we’re into October, we’re having a warm spell and the garden is acting like it’s summer! The tomatoes are all just starting to turn red, the cucumbers and zucchini are still givin’er, the pumpkins and squash are having another growth spurt, and now the green beans are starting on round two after about a month of dormancy!

We’re supposed to be going fishing tomorrow, and I’m wondering if the salmon are a little late this year too...

If there’s one thing 2020 has taught us all it’s that nothing is ever certain. So even though I’m sort of ready to be done with the garden already, I’m reminded of how fortunate we are to have such abundance come from our property and our surrounding environment; To have so much when so many have so little; To live in such a beautiful, bountiful corner of the world surrounded by a kind-hearted community that values sustainability and self-sufficiency like we do.

I love making plans for the future, and we wouldn’t be where we are today without some pretty serious planning. But sometimes you’ve just gotta go with the flow and trust that even when things don’t work out exactly as you’d imagined, they work out exactly as they should.

I wasn’t expecting to still be busy with the summer garden in October, but I have to say, this year, no matter how ready to be done with it I might feel some days, I’m more grateful than ever for everything we’ve been blessed with.

What are you feeling grateful for this year? It’s Thanksgiving next weekend here in Canada, so we’ll be talking a lot about gratefulness this week in our house 🙏
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Can you imagine how bland and boring our food (and life) would be without spices??⁣

Seriously! We take them for granted nowadays because they’re so readily available in our pantries and on grocery store shelves. But for thousands of years throughout history, spices were coveted, revered and hard to get. For around 1,500 years, spices travelled overland on camelback and horseback on the Silk Road from China to the west. And then, just over 500 years ago, explorers set out into the unknown to find a maritime trading route, and one of those explorers just so happened to stumble on the Americas along the way, essentially shaping history and the modern world as we know it. ⁣

But besides history and geography, the science behind spices is just as fascinating. Their culinary and medicinal uses have had a huge impact on the world and on the dishes we enjoy on a regular basis today. Oh, and did you know that, scientifically speaking, it’s actually possible to GROW even the most “exotic” spices at home, right here in North America??⁣

I LOVE to geek out on this sort of stuff, so doing the research for the latest issue of Modern Homesteading Magazine was actually so much fun. (If you hadn’t guessed, this issue is all about spices!!)⁣

I’d love to tell you so much more right here, but I’m a bit limited on space! However, you can read more about the fascinating story of spices, their culinary and medicinal uses, how to put them to use in your kitchen and yes, even how to grow them at home in the October issue.⁣

So if you’re already subscribed, be sure to check your inbox for the latest issue (it came out yesterday). And if you’re NOT yet subscribed, then head on over and click the link in my bio @thehouseandhomestead to subscribe for FREE, and get the latest issue delivered straight to your inbox!⁣

Wishing you a rich, flavourful fall season full of spice, pumpkin and otherwise;)
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The weather this summer has been as unpredictable as 2020 itself. The cool, grey, wet start to the summer meant that our sun-loving crops got a slow start in the garden, and that’s led to an unprecedented number of green tomatoes at the end of the season.

You’ve probably heard me complaining about our green tomato “problem” all summer. We do, after all, have great fruit set and TONS of tomatoes on our plants. They’re just almost all green!!!

While I do love me some green tomatoes (green tomato relish is my FAVE and fermented green tomatoes and hot peppers are out of this world), I refuse to give up on luscious, red, homemade tomato sauce and salsa just yet. I refuse to accept that they’re all just green and that’s just the way it is! So I’m taking matters into my own hands and ripening them myself.

Luckily the process of ripening green tomatoes indoors is ridiculously easy, so if you’ve got more green tomatoes than you know what to do with too, or you’re just keen to get another batch of sauce on your pantry shelves, I’m sharing this simple trick with you today for ripening green tomatoes that has stood the test of time (for real... my great grandmother used to do this).

Link in bio @thehouseandhomestead or go to https://thehouseandhomestead.com/how-to-ripen-green-tomatoes-indoors/ to learn this simple hack!
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Okay, I MAY have totally messed up a batch of blackberry jam today, but check out this carrot! Thing’s almost as thick as my forearm and as long as my face! (Is that an accurate way to measure things?)🤷🏻‍♀️
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September is such an odd time of year. It’s the time of year when we tend to find ourselves with a foot in two worlds: A transition season, if you will.⁣

In the garden, some plants are dead or dying. There’s brown, crispy stems, dried pea pods bursting with next year’s seeds and a natural layer of mulch in the form of fallen leaves. But at the same time there’s still so much life. So much greenery and colour. So much of summer still left.⁣

Indoors we’re busy putting up the harvest, stocking our shelves with jars of colourful food, baskets of cured onions and garlic, dried herbs hanging everywhere and crocks of fermenting foods on every countertop. But while we’re still dealing with the summer bounty, fall has begun, which means we’re back to schedules and routines and, for those of us with kids, school.⁣

But this year our return to our “normal” fall routines is anything but. For many families, there is no return to school. Not in the traditional sense anyway. Instead, more families than ever before have found themselves educating their children at home for the first time, whether by force or by choice. And trying to balance all of the usual September tasks with navigating full-time homeschooling can feel daunting, to say the least.⁣

I know we can all use as much help and expert advice as we can get at this time, so I’m honoured to have Ginny Aaron, a full-time homeschooling, homesteading mom of three sharing her wisdom on the blog this week. She’s generously shared her best tips for incorporating homeschooling with your existing routine and finding the teachable moments in the every day so that you don’t need to uproot your life or find another 7 hours in your day to recreate a classroom environment at home.⁣

I just love Ginny’s approach to homeschooling and if you’re anything like me, I think you will too. You can check out her full post by clicking the link in my bio or go to https://thehouseandhomestead.com/homeschooling-on-the-homestead/

It’s also Ginny's first time guest posting so be sure to leave a comment while you’re there and let us know what school looks like for your family this year.⁣

Link in bio @thehouseandhomestead
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I’ve been feeling the weight of the world on my shoulders lately. Between balancing work and the garden and all of the canning and preserving tasks this time of year, I’ve already got enough on my plate. Add a string of social commitments, back-to-school and extracurricular activities, and I’m definitely feeling the pressure, as I usually do this time of year.⁣⁣⁣⁣⁣
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But lump on a pandemic, worsening political tensions, division and civil unrest, intensifying environmental disasters (we’re currently socked in with smoke from the California wildfires), and it all just becomes too much to bear some days.⁣⁣⁣⁣⁣
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I know I’m far from the only one who’s feeling this way. And yet, we all have to just keep putting one foot in front of the other and keep going even when we’re feeling stressed and overwhelmed and burnt out. Even when the present is frightening and the future is uncertain.⁣

I’ve developed some strategies over the past few years that have helped me keep moving forward and get things done even when I’m feeling overwhelmed and don’t know where to start, and I want to share them with others who need help coping with stress and overwhelm right now too.⁣⁣
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You can check out my list of 10 tips for managing stress and overwhelm on the homestead (and in life!) by clicking the link in my bio @thehouseandhomestead and then clicking the link to the full blog post at the top.⁣⁣⁣⁣⁣
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You can also grab my free time management planner by clicking the link in my bio and then clicking on “Free Resource Library,” (find it under “Homesteading & Self-Sufficiency Resources” in the library).⁣⁣⁣
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No matter what you’re struggling with right now, I hope some of these tips help keep you navigate these extra stressful times and stay focused and moving forward with your to-do list, as well as with your big goals and dreams. But most of all, I hope it reminds you that if you are struggling and feeling overwhelmed right now, you’re not alone.⁣⁣⁣⁣⁣
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Link in bio @thehouseandhomestead to read more.⁣⁣⁣⁣⁣
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I don’t think I have a jar big enough for this pickling cucumber 🥒 ⁣

What do you do with the huge pickling cukes that inevitably get missed in the garden??⁣

Please leave suggestions below! I’ve got two of ‘em! 😂
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#humanswhogrowfood #homesteadersofinstagram #mypickleisbiggerthanyours
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Late summer is truly the time of abundance (and by far the busiest time of year for us).⁣⁣⁣
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We’ve got so much food that’s ripe for the picking in our own garden, plus baskets full of produce that we purchase locally when it’s in season and preserve for the winter.⁣⁣⁣
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Between harvesting and preserving (and trying my best to document it all for you along the way), there’s little time for much else in August.⁣⁣⁣
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We’re busy sweating in the garden and the kitchen, working around the clock to preserve all of the fruits (and vegetables) of summer so that come winter we hunker down and relax knowing we’ve got a pantry full of food to sustain us.⁣⁣⁣
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While there have been more times than I like to admit when I’ve asked myself why we do this when we could be at the beach or floating down the river like everyone else, come winter I am ALWAYS grateful for the time and energy we invested in the spring, summer and fall to grow and preserve all of the food that lines our pantry shelves.⁣⁣⁣
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With everything that 2020 has brought so far (and more uncertainty to come), this year I’m feeling grateful even in the thick of it; Even while I’m sweating and pulling late night canning sessions and constantly scraping dirt out from under my nails. This year it’s more apparent than ever how much growing and preserving our own food is worth the time and effort that it takes.⁣⁣⁣
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If you feel the same way and you’re looking to get even better at gardening, preserving and homesteading in general, or maybe you’re finally ready to start living a more sustainable lifestyle where YOU have control over your food supply, I highly encourage you to check out the Gardening & Sustainable Living Bundle (link in bio @thehouseandhomestead). It’s packed with almost $600 worth of resources designed to help you take control of your food security and live a more self-sufficient life, and it’s on sale today only for just $19.99!⁣

If you ask me, we would all be wise to invest in our own food security as we head into fall and winter 2020, so click the link in my bio @thehouseandhomestead to grab your bundle now. The sale ends tonight at midnight so don’t wait!!
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